, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp 2046-2052
Date: 14 Oct 2005

The human cost of fracture

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Abstract

In this population-based, observational study, we document the personal burden of fracture and utilization of community and health services for women during the 12-month period following a fracture. Participants were 598 women (aged 35–92 years) with incident fracture in the years 1994–1996 who were enrolled in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Almost all hip fracture cases and 27% of nonhip fracture cases were hospitalized. Homes were modified in 14% of cases, and 32% of the women purchased or hired equipment to assist with activities of daily living. Three-quarters of women with hip, pelvis, or lower limb fractures were confined to the home, had to walk with a walking aid, or could walk only short distances for several weeks. After a year, nearly one-half had not regained prefracture mobility. One-seventh of women with upper-limb fractures did not venture outside the home for at least 6 weeks. Nearly half of all fracture cases needed help with personal care and housework during the first 6 weeks. After 6 months, 3.4% of all patients and 19.6% of hip, 12.8% of humeral, and 4.7% of spine fracture patients required assistance with bathing and showering. After a year, more than half of the hip fracture cases remained restricted regarding housework, gardening, and transport. These findings have important implications for rehabilitation therapy. A fracture, regardless of site, had a major impact on a woman’s lifestyle and well-being. Most women were restricted in their activities of daily living and suffered loss of confidence and independence. Short-term morbidity was common for all fractures, with varying degrees of prolonged morbidity often extending to at least a year postfracture.