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Helping Patients Get Back on Their Feet after Hip Fracture

Posted on: 07/21/2004
Falls and fractures. These are two of the aging adults' worst enemies. What's the best way to rehabilitate these injuries and get patients back on their feet? Researchers in Australia compare a home program of weightbearing exercises (WBE) against non-weightbearing exercises (NWBE) or no exercise (control group).

NWBE is the standard treatment after hip fracture. But some researchers think it's best to use exercises closely related to the desired task to increase function. So standing up, walking, and climbing stairs are best improved by doing these activities.

The three groups were followed for four months. At the end of one month most of the patients (85 to 89 percent) in exercise groups were doing the exercises at least three times a week. By the end of four months the number had dropped to between 69 and 73 percent.

The authors report no change in strength for either exercise group after four months. Balance and function were both improved in the exercise groups. The WBE group showed the greatest change. No differences were reported by any of the patients at the end of the four months for pain, activity, or sleep.

The authors conclude that a home exercise program after hip fracture can help patients. Weightbearing exercise is better than non-weightbearing exercise. Any exercise is better than none.

Catherine Sherrington, PhD, et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Weight-Bearing Versus Non-Weight-Bearing Exercise for Improving Physical Ability after Usual Care for Hip Fracture. In Achives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. May 2004. Vol. 85. No. 5. pp. 710-716.

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