Mathematical model shows potential for new fracture-healing methods for the elderly

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A new scientific model helps explain why some bone fractures don't heal properly. The result could be treatment options that help an aging population, according to a new report.

Between 5% and 10% of bone fractures don't heal properly, according to an international team of researchers writing in the Sept. 2 edition of the journal PLoS Computational Biology. In their study, the team used a combination of animal models that imitate “clinical non-union situations,” which occur when bones simply don't heal together, and a mathematical model for studying how fractures normally heal.

One potential treatment they found for non-union fractures was to transplant bone-marrow cells to the fracture site, which helped form a union between the fractured bone ends in both the experiments and the simulations. The occurrence of these types of non-healing bone fractures will likely continue rising as the population ages, the researchers noted.