One in two seniors who have suffered a hip fracture will never be as physically active and independent as they were before the accident. The very old and those with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease have even more difficulty in recovering well. In the vast majority of cases, surgery is necessary after the fracture.
Each year in the United States, 300,000 elderly people, or just over 1 per thousand of the country’s adult population, are hospitalized and operated on following a hip fracture. Despite the efforts made to facilitate the rehabilitation or recovery of patients to ensure that they can enjoy the same level of physical activity as before the accident, many are becoming increasingly fragile and dependent on others.
Worldwide estimates point to 2.6 million hip fractures per year in 2025.
More than 700 people taken into account
To better understand how older people recover from a hip fracture, Dr. Tang and her colleagues compared the condition and physical capacity of 733 adults over the age of 65 before and after the fracture. The information needed to conduct this study came from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a representative US longitudinal study that measures changes in the economic and health status of Americans as they age.
Participants’ recovery was assessed on how well they were still able to take care of themselves after the fracture such as bathing or showering, dressing, eating, or going to the bathroom. bath without any help. Factors such as their ability to walk down the street near their home or climb stairs without resting were noted, as well as their age and health prior to the hip fracture.
Difficulties in recovering
The probability of recovering to pre-fracture functional levels was less than 50%. The chances of regaining all of one’s functions were particularly low in people over the age of 85, those with several illnesses or people who suffered from dementia (ed. eg Alzheimer’s).
Among all the participants, 31% regained their daily functions before the accident. The situation was only marginally better for those who were physically very active before the fracture. It is essential to be aware of the difficulties of recovering after a hip fracture, in order to help patients, families and also caregivers to set realistic recovery goals, especially when the patient is discharged home.
This study was published in the journal Journal of General Internal Medicine in September 2016.
Victoria L. Tang: Rates of Recovery to Pre-Fracture Function in Older Persons with Hip Fracture: an Observational Study. Journal of General Internal Medicine DOI:10.1007/s11606-016-3848-2