Hip fractures are a major risk in older adults. As our population is living longer and demographically shifting, steps to address this need to be taken. To put in perspective the paralyzing effect hip fractures have, 50% of those of have a hip fracture lose their independent living status within 6 months and never recover it. 40% of those with hip fracture must be moved to long-term care facilities and 33% are readmitted to hospital within 6 months. Clearly taking steps to prevent falls and improving rehabilitation are concrete steps we can take to improve these outcomes.
Sherrington et al 2011 completed a review of hip fracture rehabilitation studies. Of over 400 studies, they found few standardized protocols.
Programs that emphasized weight training for 6-12 weeks showed no statistical difference in outcomes. Programs that emphasized weight bearing as opposed to non-weight bearing showed no statistical difference in outcomes. Home exercise programs post-discharge reduced future falls by 25%! Follow-up care by a physiotherapist in the home reduced falls and improved compliance by 33%!
It appears that balance and strength training show the greatest promise of minimizing falls but such limited data is available, generalizations are still hard to come by. It is important that older-adults exercise regularly and maintain good balance, strength and bone density to minimize the chances of a fall leading to fracture.