Healthcare professional helps senior woman walk with a walker
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Hip protectors and mobility aids can reduce fractures, a video analysis of actual falls has found.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University, Canada, video‐captured more than 2,300 falls by 646 residents in two long‐term care facilities. Over the eleven-year study period, hip fracture occurred in 30 falls. Falls were analyzed using a structured questionnaire and relative risk ratios were calculated for fall characteristics linked to hip fractures. 

The investigators found that all hip fractures involved falls from standing height, and pelvis impact with the ground. Hip protectors were worn in 73% of the falls recorded, and residents wearing them had a twofold lower risk of hip fracture. Meanwhile, falls while using a mobility aid, such as a walker, were tied to a threefold lower risk.

The analysis also revealed that the biomechanics of falls resulting in hip fracture were different than those of non‐fracture falls. For example, risk for hip fracture was higher for a sideways landing than forward or backward landings. While backward falls were least likely to result in hip fracture, falls that began as forward-facing were just as likely as sideways falls to cause hip fracture due to rotation during descent. Notably, factors such as stopping the fall with outstretched hands, body weight or osteoporosis diagnosis had no effect on hip fracture risk.

The researchers emphasized the importance of prevention, encouraging greater use of hip protectors and mobility aids.

“About 25% of older adults in long-term care who experience hip fracture die within six months, so it’s really important that we direct efforts to prevent falls and also to prevent hip fracture in the event of a fall, especially in the high-risk, long-term care setting,” said Professor Steve Robinovitch, who led the investigation.

The study is the first to video‐recorded falls causing hip fracture, the researchers claim. Full findings were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.