Moffat Grant Recipient to Look at Hospital Readmission Reductions Through Frontloaded Physical Therapy

Kevin McLaughlin, PT, DPT, was awarded the 2020 Moffat Geriatric Physical Therapy Research Grant to look at the effect of frontloaded physical therapy on hospital readmission. He anticipates this study will allow physical therapists to make more informed decisions when developing plans of care for their patients following hospital discharge.

In 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services implemented the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) to improve care coordination to reduce hospital readmissions. HRRP reduces payments based on excess readmissions. Still, readmission rates remain high.

One proposed strategy to address the issue is frontloaded physical therapy. However, it remains unclear how often this approach is used, whether it reduces hospital readmissions, or even improves patient function more than other in-home physical therapy treatments.

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) awarded the $70,000 Moffat Geriatric Physical Therapy Research Grant to Kevin McLaughlin, PT, DPT, in 2020. McLaughlin will apply his funds to his project titled, “National Prevalence of Physical Therapy Frontloading and the Impact on Hospital Readmission and Physical Function Among Medicare Beneficiaries.”

“Frontloading has the potential of preventing hospital readmissions by helping avoid adverse events (e.g. falls) and providing frequent exercise, which has multiple systemic benefits,” said McLaughlin. “We aim to better define frontloaded physical therapy (number of visits and the timeframe they should be delivered) and identify patient groups that most benefit from these services. This study will provide important information on the types of patients that benefit most from post-acute physical therapy, an important component of precision rehabilitation and would not have been possible without the support of the Moffat Grant.”

While his study will not focus directly on the recent COVID pandemic, McLaughlin believes that this study may provide insight into whether frontloaded physical therapy could be an effective tool for patients recovering from COVID-19. “The impact of COVID-19 on patient health and our hospital systems has increased the importance of post-acute physical therapy, especially in the home setting.”

This award was made possible by the Marilyn Moffat Fund for Geriatric Research and a generous donation from Fox Rehabilitation.

Select Foundation Grants and Scholarships Awarded



  • McLaughlin KH, Reider L, Castillo RC, Ficke JR, Levy J. “Physical Therapy Utilization Following Tibia Fracture.” (in review)

  • McLaughlin KH, Shafiq B, Archer K, Wegener S, Reider L. “Physical Therapy Prescription Following Lower Extremity Trauma: Results from Surgeon and Physical Therapist Surveys.” (in review)

  • McGee TG, Cosgarea AJ, McLaughlin KH, Tanaka M, Johnson K. Rehabilitation After Medial Patellofemoral Ligament Reconstruction. Sports Med Arthrosc. 2017 Jun; 25(2):105-113