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12/21/2009 - News

Hip Protectors Don't Work As Intended

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD



Hip Protectors Don't Work As Intended

Robert W. Griffith, MD

In 2000 the New England Journal of Medicine published an article from Finland showing that wearing a padded protector over the point of the hip would prevent a number of fractures of the head of the femur - an important cause of serious disability and even death in old persons. In this month's Journal of the American Medical Association there's an article reporting the result of a multicenter study of the use of a hip pad on one side only.

About 1000 residents from 40 nursing homes were randomly assigned to wear a protector on one side or the other, for 24 hours each day. The study was stopped early, after only 20 months, as the protector didn't show any effectiveness in preventing fractures. The rate of hip fracture did not differ between the protected and unprotected hips, even when the analysis was restricted to those 334 residents who wore their protection 80% of the time.

The investigators admitted that having just one hip protected could have led to an altered gait to favor the padded hip during a fall, but they concluded by saying "the increasing body of evidence [shows] that hip protectors, as currently designed, are not effective for preventing hip fracture among nursing home residents."

Well, that's one problem less for me as I get older. I just have to avoid falling in the first place, I guess...

HealthandAge Blog

Created on: 08/18/2007
Reviewed on: 12/21/2009

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