Question:I broke my hip six months ago and I'm still having trouble getting around. I notice my biggest problem is getting across the street before the light changes. What can I do about this?
The first thing to look at is: what's holding you back. Are you in pain? Are you afraid of falling? Can you see well enough to avoid cracks or holes in the road that could trip you up? How's your balance? Do you get short of breath when you try to go faster?
Many people don't get back to their prefracture level of activity after a hip fracture. There are many possible reasons for this such as pain, decreased strength, and poor balance.
A recent case study by two physical therapists working with a 68-year old woman showed that the first physical therapy program in the hospital after fracture may not be enough. It helps get the patient back up on his or her feet and walking, perhaps even walking without a walker or cane. But there may not be enough load against the muscles to get full strength back.
Future studies are needed to look at how much exercise, what kind, and how long it must be done to return muscle to prefracture levels of force. Aerobic capacity must also be addressed as many patients become deconditioned from immobility during the six to weight weeks of fracture healing.
In the meantime, talk to your doctor about seeing a physical therapist for a more advanced exercise program to help you meet your goals.Kathleen K. Mangione, PT, PhD, GCS, and Kersten M. Palombaro, PT, MS. Exercise Prescription for a Patient 3 Months after Hip Fracture. In Physical Therapy. July 2005. Vol. 85. No. 7. Pp. 676-687.
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