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Why Bother With Hip Pads?

Following my recent post on the frequency of hip fractures in nursing homes, I received several responses from blog readers who asked me about the effectiveness of hip pads in preventing injury and hip fractures to nursing home residents.  For those that don’t know, hip pads are usually similar to underwear with built in plastic and foam pads.  The overwhelming evidence suggests that hip pads do little to prevent hip fractures amongst the elderly.  In fact, a recent study of 1,000 nursing home residents was terminated because the hip pads were so ineffective in preventing fracture.

Importance of Hip PadsAccording to the study’s author, Dr. Douglas Kiel, of Harvard Medical School, ‘In the United States, nearly 340,000 hip fractures occur per year, more than 90 percet of which are assiciated with falls, and the number of hip fractures may double or triple by the middle of this century.’ Further, ‘The highest incidence rates of hip fractures have been reported in nursing home residents, where 50 percent of residents fall each year.’

So the question remains, why do nursing homes and facities use hip pads in the first place?  I really con not think of any reason other than the fact that some nursing homes would rather use a device to take the place of staff involvement and supervision of their residents.  The only effective way to prevent nursing home falls is to identify people who may be prone to falls and to provide adequate assistance to residents throughout their daily living activites.

Read more about hip pads in nursing homes here.

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