Hip Fracture Rehabilitation
Falls and hip fractures are unfortunately common in frail elderly patients, and hip fracture rehabilitation is an important concern. Breaking a hip can result in nursing home placement or even death. An important predictor of being able to return home is pre-fracture mobility. Ongoing communication with the orthopedic surgeon is important to establish hip precautions, to avoid dislocation of an artificial joint, and for guidance on when the patient can begin to bear his full weight on the operated leg. Older patients may be unable to cooperate with partial weight-bearing restrictions, because of poor balance, weakness, or cognitive impairment. Although pain must be adequately treated, it is important to avoid overmedication and delirium in frail older adults. Fear of falling can become a limiting factor, and confidence must be addressed. Strengthening exercises (sometimes including treadmill gait retraining), balance training, and walking aids are standard components of hip fracture rehabilitation. Therapy can continue on an outpatient basis.
Inpatient rehabilitation can take place on the acute care unit (medical or surgical) or on specialized geriatric rehabilitation wards. If the patient is well enough to go home, outpatient rehabilitation can be facility-based or home-based. In some areas, geriatric day hospitals offer an intermediate solution to frail patients who have returned to the community. The types of geriatric services available vary depending on local preference, economics, and cultural attitudes toward the elderly. Particularly as the population ages, resources may not keep pace with needs. Outcome in geriatric rehabilitation very often depends upon the type and degree of social support available to the patient.
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