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01.01.2015 | Originalien | Ausgabe 1/2015

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 1/2015

Cognitive plasticity as a moderator of functional dependency in elderly patients hospitalized for bone fractures

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie > Ausgabe 1/2015
Ph.D. M.J. Calero-García, M.D. Calero, E. Navarro, A.R. Ortega



Bone fractures in older adults involve hospitalization and surgical intervention, aspects that have been related to loss of autonomy and independence. Several variables have been studied as moderators of how these patients recover. However, the implications of cognitive plasticity for functional recovery have not been studied to date.


The present study analyzes the relationship between cognitive plasticity—defined as the capacity for learning or improved performance under conditions of training or performance optimization—and functional recovery in older adults hospitalized following a bone fracture.

Patients and methods

The study comprised 165 older adults who underwent surgery for bone fractures at a hospital in southern Spain. Participants were evaluated at different time points thereafter, with instruments that measure activities of daily life (ADL), namely the Barthel Index (BI) and the Lawton Index, as well as with a learning potential (cognitive plasticity) assessment test (Auditory Verbal Learning Test of Learning Potential, AVLT-LP).


Results show that most of the participants have improved their level of independence 3 months after the intervention. However, some patients continue to have medium to high levels of dependency and this dependency is related to cognitive plasticity.


The results of this study reveal the importance of the cognitive plasticity variable for evaluating older adults hospitalized for a fracture. They indicate a possible benefit to be obtained by implementing programs that reduce the degree of long-term dependency or decrease the likelihood of it arising.

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