Question:When my mother went in to see her doctor for the follow-up visit after her hip fracture no one asked her anything about how she was doing at home. No one asked her anything about laundry, getting in and out of the tub, or even how far she can walk. This seems like a pretty important measure of how she's doing. Shouldn't someone be checking up on these kinds of activities?
Many patients lose function after a hip fracture. A year later they still can't walk independently. Recovery of function is a very important part of hip fracture follow-up. But as many doctors and nurses know, asking patients about what they can and can't do isn't always the same thing as knowing what the patient is capable of.
Trained health care professionals know what to look for when watching a patient move about even just in the doctor's office. How does she walk? Does she use a cane, walker, or crutches? How does she use them? The patient who depends heavily on a walker is very different from the person who simply carries a cane around.
Sometimes asking the patient about his or her social life is very revealing. Have you been to church or temple? Have you gotten back to your card parties? Played a round of golf yet?
Think back on the time your mother spent with the doctor. Based on the observations he or she made and/or any questions that were asked, would you still say the doctor didn't get a good idea of how your mother is really doing?
If you still have concerns, don't hesitate to contact the doctor's office and share these with the nurse or physician. This is especially important if you think your mother needs further assistance. Home health or rehab may be needed if she isn't regaining her former function.Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, et al. The Lower Extremity Gain Scale: A Performance-Based Measure to Assess Recovery After Hip Fracture. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. March 2006. Vol. 87. No. 3. Pp. 430-436.
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