TUESDAY, Oct. 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — For older adults, a fractured hip is often life-changing: The majority will never return to their former levels of independence and physical activity, according to new research.
“We all hope for full recovery, but less than half recover to their previous function after a hip fracture,” said Dr. Victoria Tang, lead author of the study.
The chances of recovery among hip-fracture patients older than 85 with dementia or other health problems are even lower, the study authors found.
“By being able to set realistic expectations of the likelihood of recovery, as family members, we can take steps to plan and prepare for future care needs of the patient,” added Tang. She is medical director of the geriatric surgery wellness program at the University of California, San Francisco.
For older adults, the odds of suffering a hip fracture increase as bones tend to weaken. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 300,000 people aged 65 and older are hospitalized for hip fractures each year.
Using the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study, Tang and her colleagues reviewed data on just over 730 adults aged 65 and older (average age nearly 85 years) who had sustained a hip fracture. The researchers assessed each patient’s health and physical ability before and after the injury.
For instance, could they walk around the block or climb stairs without resting before their fracture? And afterwards, were they able to dress themselves and get to the bathroom on their own?
The researchers found that the likelihood of recovery to the prefracture level of function was less than 50 percent regardless of previous ability level.
About one in three returned to their prior daily functioning, according to the analysis. Just over one-third were able to move as before, and only four out of 10 regained their former ability to climb stairs. Even for those who were very physically active before their injury, outcomes were only slightly better, the findings showed.
The study authors also found that about one-third of patients returned to living independently without assistance.
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