For seniors, a seemingly innocuous fall can result in hip fractures or breaks, which tend to have more far reaching and catastrophic health consequences. In fact, 40% of seniors who suffer a hip fracture are unable to transition back to their homes and live independently. Perhaps the even more startling statistic is that 25% of elderly hip replacement patients pass away within a year of their surgery.
Part of the problem is that typical replacement surgeries involve cutting through major muscle groups and require a 6-8 week recovery time. Most seniors simply can’t bounce back from such an invasive surgery and regain their mobility and independence. However, some patients are experiencing success with an increasingly popular surgical approach to hip replacements.
Traditionally, surgeons have gained access to the hip by cutting through the buttocks, but an anterior approach that utilizes an incision directly on the hip is gaining more fans both among patients and surgeons. This type of surgery has become increasingly popular in the United States over the last 10 years. Proponents argue that this approach cuts down on recovery time and allows for an increased range of motion directly after surgery.
However, others argue that there is no clear winner when it comes to choosing the best method of hip replacement surgery. No matter which approach you and your surgeon agree upon, it is going to be an invasive surgery. The key is to find an experienced surgeon who specializes in hip replacements because the skill of the surgeon may be more important than their approach.
Despite the rise in anecdotal evidence that an anterior hip replacement surgery can help patients recover more quickly and completely, the real trick may be to prevent falls in the first place. What we can say for certain is that balance significantly decreases with age. Weakening stabilizer muscles are partially to blame. Fortunately, regular exercise can fight muscle deterioration and reduce the risk of falls.
In addition, simple and inexpensive mobility devices can be installed in your home to make it safe and easy to navigate. Walk-in tubs, lift chairs, stair lifts, mobility scooters and a variety of the products may help you stay out of the hospital altogether.