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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2000 Jan-Feb;30(1):25-34.

Effectiveness and acceptability of a newly designed hip protector: a pilot study.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, High Street, Randwick 2031, NSW, Australia.


Hip fracture has a significant economic and personal cost, involving hospital admission and functional impairment for elderly people. To assess the benefit of using a newly designed hip protector (new material and new design) to prevent fracture in a realistic setting, a randomised intervention-control design was used to trial the effectiveness of pads worn by high falls risk residents (n=71) in nursing home for 9 months. 40 residents were in the intervention group and 31 were in the control group. A profile of falls, including time of day, and orientation was obtained to demonstrate the potential effectiveness of the protectors for injury prevention. Acceptance of the hip protector was also surveyed amongst nursing home staff and residents. One hundred and one falls and six fractures occurred in the control group. In contrast, one hundred and ninety one falls and three fractures occurred in the hip protector (pads) group. The three fractures in the protector wearing group occurred when pads were not in place. This was extrapolated as 1 in every 16.8 falls and 1 in every 63.7 falls resulting in fracture in the two groups, respectively. The relative risk of fracture was 0.264 (95% CI=0.073-0.959) when the fracture incidence rate in the intervention group (three fractures per 191 falls) was compared to the control group (six fractures per 101 falls). This is a statistically significant result and implies that this newly designed hip protector is effective in preventing hip fracture. The majority of falls occurred during the day, which was when protectors were worn in this study, but the data on orientation was incomplete, with direction unknown in 74% of falls. Compliance was an issue, which was interpreted as only 50.3% of falls recorded with protectors in place. Dementia was identified as the explanation for this as the pads were often removed by these residents who comprised the majority of participants. Perception of low risk was the primary barrier to residents accepting the intervention. Comfort of protectors was not a significant concern for staff or residents, and only staff described appearance as an issue. In conclusion, the newly designed hip protector is protective against fractures in a realistic setting. Compliance and acceptance of the protectors will ultimately determine the viability of this prophylaxis.


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