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Injuries due to falling are a very common problem in the elderly. Hip fractures are the most common injury due to falling in the seniors. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, each year more than 300,000 people are hospitalized for hip fractures in the United States. These fractures represent 72% of all fracture costs, totaling more than 12 billion dollars in 2005 and, not surprisingly, 90% occurred in those 65 and older. Most hip fracture patients who previously lived independently will require family assistance, home or long term care and 50% will require a cane or walker.

A recent study by the American Physical Therapy Association found that patients benefited from a physical therapy evaluation to determine their risk level for falling. If a high-risk level is found on a falls assessment, physical therapy interventions can be successfully employed to improve strength, balance, and coordination and falls prevention. Also, a well-balanced diet, exercise, Calcium with vitamin D supplements and medications can help prevent or retard osteoporosis and prevent hip fractures.

Exercises to Prevent Hip Fractures

***Always perform slowly, alternate right and left sides, limit other distractions and concentrate on the exercise to retrain the brain, 10-20 times each 2-3 times per day.

***Caution: Do not do standing exercises without assistance or supervision if needed

Standing Hip Hikes (photo 1)

Face a countertop and hold onto it with both hands. Hike your hip and knee up to 90 degrees as if you are marching. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and lower slowly. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times.

Photo 1

Standing Hip Scissor Kicks (photo 2)

Face a countertop and hold onto it with both hands. Lift your leg up 30 degrees as if you are spreading your legs apart. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on one leg and lower slowly to cross over the middle. Repeat this on the other leg and alternate 10 times.

Photo 2

Standing Squats (photo 3)

Face a countertop and hold onto it with both hands. Bend your hip and knee down to 45 degrees to a squatting position. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds on both legs and return to standing slowly. Repeat this 10 times. Once strong enough try on one leg at a time and alternate.

Photo 3

Chair Squats (photo 4)

Sit in a chair with arm rests. Get out of chair only using your legs. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds and return to sitting. If necessary, use 1 or 2 arms to assist. Repeat this 10 times. Focus on trunk core stabilization and leg strength. Use more leg muscles and less arm muscles as strength improves.

Photo 4

Line Walk (photo 5)

Place a straight line on the floor and practice “walking the line” with the right then left foot on the line.

Photo 5

Single Leg Stance (photo 6)

Hold onto a chair while bending one knee and shifting your weight to the other leg. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Increase time 10 -15 -20 seconds as tolerated.

Photo 6

If you feel you or a loved one may be at risk for falling or a hip fracture, ask your family physician if a physical therapy consultation for a falls prevention program to prevent hip fractures may benefit you.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. 

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

When an older loved one sustains a serious injury it is traumatic for the entire family and mine is no exception. My grandmother and father enjoyed 90 wonderfully active years; however, their independence was lost the same way more than one-third of a million people lose their independence each year… hip fractures! As a doctor of orthopedic physical therapy, I feel remise that I could not prevent this from happening. What most of us fail to realize is that his fracture, like many, was more than just an orthopedic problem …it involves age, gender, diet, exercise, vision, leg strength, medications, environmental risks, and vestibular problems (inner ear problems effecting balance).

Injuries due to falling are a very common problem in the elderly. Hip fractures are the most common injury due to falling in the seniors. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, each year more than 300,000 people are hospitalized for hip fractures in the United States. These fractures represent 72% of all fracture costs, totaling more than 12 billion dollars in 2005 and, not surprisingly, 90% occurred in those 65 and older. Most hip fracture patients who previously lived independently will require family assistance, home or long term care and 50% will require a cane or walker.

Several risk factors for hip fractures have been identified. While some factors are somewhat controllable and may improve bone quality, (diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol) others are not.

Hip Fracture Risk Factors:

        Vestibular or inner ear problems

Preventing a fall can not only save your independence but also your life! Preventing injuries from falls reduces the need for nursing home placement.          

Tips to Prevent Falls/Fractures:

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  Hip Fractures - Part II of II

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.  

For all of Dr. Mackarey's Articles visit: www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum