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Age Ageing. 2006 Sep;35 Suppl 2:ii51-ii54.

Prevention of hip fracture with hip protectors.

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Accident & Trauma Research Center, UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland.


The prevention of fractures amongst older people consists of (i) prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, (ii) prevention of falling and (iii) prevention of fractures using injury-site protection. As the great majority of hip fractures are caused by a sideways fall with direct impact on the greater trochanter of the proximal femur, one approach to prevention is the use of an adequately configured padded, firm-shield external hip protector. With this type of two-part design, the impacting force and energy are, at the time of the fall-impact, first weakened by the padding part of the protector and then diverted away from the greater trochanter by the shield part of the same. Following this line, a series of consecutive studies by the Accident & Trauma Research Center at the UKK Institute, Tampere, Finland, found that a padded, strong-shield hip protector was effective in preventing hip fractures. In the context of the wider literature on hip protectors, these more encouraging results suggest the need for a more rigorous regulation of protector design and characteristics. Alongside inadequacies of design, the other most frequent general problem with hip protectors is compliance. Not all elderly people with a high risk of hip fracture will agree to use hip protectors and in those who do, long-term adherence may decrease. Caregiver motivation and involvement appear therefore to be crucial.

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