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Department of Physical Therapy

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Functional Mobility and Assessment

Research conducted for the Functional Mobility and Assessment Laboratory takes place primarily in regional health care environments such as acute care, skilled nursing, inpatient rehabilitation, and aims for future emphasis in the home health and long term care settings. The focus of this laboratory encompasses the use of practical, efficient tests and measures to provide patient care outcomes that enable safe transitions for patients from hospital to home.

Research collaborations for this lab occur with the University of Connecticut (Dr. Richard Bohannon, DPT, EdD with over 500 publications and 30 years of clinical experience) and Shannon Medical Center. Therapists, nurses, and administrators of local medical facilities collaborate with this lab for data collection in the clinical/patient care environment.

Director: Heather J. Braden, PT, MPT, PhD, GCS
Location: Acute Care, Skilled Nursing, and Inpatient Rehabilitation Clinical Sites

  • Research Projects


    Gait Speed and Functional Mobility in Patients of Various Inpatient Settings

    Background: Based upon its ability to predict outcomes, gait speed has been recommended as the “6th vital sign” for patient assessment. Gait speed has been shown to predict likelihood of falls, functional decline for hospitalization, future health status, and mortality.

    Importance: Medical facilities have increasing interest in reliable and valid measures to assess current health status of patients, prepare for efficient discharge, and predict future health status, and thus future medical costs, of patients. Health care entities need supportive data, such as gait speed, to help determine if patients can safely return home or re-enter the community with low likelihood of adverse events and thus re-hospitalization.

    Objectives: Identify the feasibility of gait speed and the predictability of gait speed for length of stay, discharge destination, safety/fall risk at home, and re-hospitalization likelihood in acute care, skilled nursing unit, and inpatient rehabilitation with expansions into home health and long term care settings.

    Method: Utilize gait speed testing measures comparing initial and discharge velocities. Assess discharge location and conduct 3 and 6 month post-discharge follow ups to identify functional mobility status and re-hospitalization rates.

  • Sponsored Award Dollars


    Title: The Effects of Technology-Enhanced Assessments on Learning Outcomes in Graduate Nursing and Physical Therapy Students at Angelo State University
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator, Program Director

    Total amount funded: $17,400

    Period: 02/01/2013 - 8/31/2013

    Source: Office of Sponsored Projects Grant, Angelo State University


    Title: Walking Speed as an Indicator of Patient Function in Various Health Care Settings
    Role: Principal Investigator, Program Director
    Total amount funded: $13,205
    Period: 01/01/12-08/31/12
    Source: Research Enhancement Program Grant, Angelo State University

  • Publications and Presentations

    National Presentation

    Braden, H., Ko, M., Bohmfalk, M., Hortick, K., Hasson, S. Does Walking Speed Improve in Acute Care, Skilled Nursing, or Inpatient Rehabilitation? (2013). Poster presented at CSM National Conference San Diego, CA.

    Peer-Reviewed Publication:

    Braden, H., Ko, M., Bohmfalk, M., Hortick, K., Hasson, S. (2013). Use of gait speed to determine functional improvements in acute care, skilled nursing, and inpatient rehabilitation-a pilot study. Journal of Acute Care Physical Therapy, 4(1):20-25.

    Braden, H., Hilgenberg, S., Bohannon, R., Ko, M., Hasson, S. (2012). Gait Speed is Limited but Improves over the Course of Acute-care Physical Therapy. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.

    Braden, H., Hilgenberg, S., Bohannon, R., Ko, M. Gait Speed in Acute Care. (2012). Proceedings for APTA National Conference