Skilled nursing residents and other post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) patients who received high intensity physical and occupational therapy had the lowest rates of 30-day hospital readmission, a new study says. The authors defined high intensity as about 90-216 hours across all conditions.

In the study, skilled nursing residents who received high-intensity therapy had a 15.4% 30-day readmission rate after SNF discharge, compared to 26.3% for those with low-intensity therapy and 17.7% of those who got typical therapy. Within in-patient rehabilitation facilities, the 30-day rehospitalization rate of the low-intensity group was more than double that of the patients who receive high-intensity therapy (29.8% versus 13.3%).

Interestingly, patients across settings who received typical therapy had greater changes in functional scores, compared to both those in high- and low-intensity groups. This includes improvements in the ability to perform everyday functional activities such as bathing, dressing, and transferring. For instance, from admission to discharge for a diagnosis of joint replacement, there was a nearly 5-point improvement in functional status scores for those who received typical therapy, which was slightly higher than the 4-point change for the high-intensity group. Those patients who received low-intensity therapy only an average 2-point improvement in their functional scores.

The study was backed by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The groups said that these finding highlight the importance of matching delivery of therapy services to patient needs.

Click here to read the study.