Q. My father is an active 92-year-old who lost his balance, fell and fractured his left hip. The orthopedic surgeon said he needed surgery to repair the fracture.
Apparently, it was a complicated fracture to fix and he had a 10-inch rod and multiple screws inserted. The doctor was very pleased with the result of the surgery and emphasized the key to recovery is motivation and rehab.
How long will my father need physical therapy and a walker? When will he be independent again, and can he expect a full recovery?
A. Hip fractures in elderly patients are a very common injury.
Hip fractures that occur and displace right near the ball part of the hip, the “femoral neck,” usually require total hip replacement. Fractures that occur farther down the hip — “intertrochanteric and subtrochanteric” — require a combination of a rod and screws to secure the bone while the fracture heals.
Most of the post-operative protocols allow for full-weight bearing with a walker after surgery. Physical therapy should begin immediately as getting out of bed quickly helps to prevent pneumonia, urinary tract infections and bedsores.
If your father works hard through the pain during rehab, he can usually get back to his pre-injury status of independence. Rehab may last for one to two months. If his balance issues persist, the walker may be necessary indefinitely.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net