Preventing falls and disability in older adults after hip fracture

Every year, more than 20,000 people in Canada sustain a hip fracture. Of these, up to 20% die within 12 months and 50% do not return to their pre-fracture level of mobility. People who have a hip fracture have a higher risk of falling and an increased risk of a subsequent hip fracture compared with those of the same age who have never had a hip fracture. After a hip fracture, relative immobility initiates a vicious cycle where deteriorating balance and muscle weakness increases risk of falls and diminished bone health contributes to fracture risk. Although exercise is key to reversing this pattern, there have been relatively few clinical trials aimed at improving muscle strength, balance and enhancing bone health following hip fracture.

Dr. Maureen Ashe is conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a targeted exercise program on the rate of falls, functional mobility and bone micro-architecture among older adults who have sustained a hip fracture. If successful, this intervention will result in fewer falls and improved bone health in a vulnerable senior population. Data from the research will inform recommendations for rehabilitation and contribute to the knowledge base for health-professionals, both in hospital and in the community, who manage care after hip fracture.