Wrist Fractures Lead to Disability in Women

A study at Northwest University took a look at the impact of wrist fractures on elderly women and found some not necessarily surprising results. Over 6,000 women over the age of 65 were involved in the study. None of the women had ever had a wrist or hip fracture, both of which commonly happen during falls.

The women were studied based on their ability to function and do things like climb stairs, clean house, prepare meals, get in and out of cars and shop on their own.

The Women were then examined every two years for seven and a half years and a weird trend seemed to take place.  The researchers found that those who had experienced wrist fractures were fifty percent more likely to suffer a disability later on down the road than those who had not suffered a fracture at all.  Note that this study did take into effect such things as life styles and demographics into account of the participants studied.

While the study might not contain some interesting statistics, it does emphasize the need to prevent falls in the home as much as possible. Elderly people, and their caregivers if they have them, need to be very aware of fall risks like steps, thresholds, loose rugs, clutter and anything that could cause a fall.

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It’s also important for someone who has had a wrist fracture to view the study in the proper light and not be discouraged thinking that it means there’s double the chance of becoming disabled. The most likely conclusion to take away is that a person with a broken wrist is more likely to end up with a disability because they fell while others didn’t and not because of the broken wrist itself.

Someone who falls and is injured probably has other risk factors such as balance issues, unclear paths in the home, nothing to grab onto in the case of dizziness or other hazards that can cause more falls and lead to a greater number of injuries. If you fit into that group, taking steps to prevent future accidents can go a long way toward reducing the chance of life-changing disability in the future.

At minimum, there are some very inexpensive and simple steps to take to help prevent falls. Wheelchair ramps can be used for someone in a manual or a power chair to eliminate the need to use most steps. Stair lifts are ideal for use on staircases, as well. Threshold ramps eliminate those little elevations that are easy to trip on. And the installation of grab bars in places like the bathtub, near the bed and around the toilet can help someone who has difficulty stepping up and down or rising from a seated position.

Work to find the danger spots and provide solutions to lower the risk of falls and to lessen the chance of any long-term disability.

Cole Watts

Cole Watts writes on behalf of US Medical Supplies, an online retailer of medical equipment and mobility aides.

9 thoughts on “Wrist Fractures Lead to Disability in Women

  • May 26, 2011 at 4:30 am
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    This is so sad. Women are biologically more prone to fractures and need more calcium intake than man do. Ever women must take lots of dairy products. My mom’s bones have gone brittle :( I don’t want to suffer like her. I drink lots of milk products coz I am a vegetarian. Nice Article. Will make all women around more aware about the importance of our physical strength.

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  • November 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm
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    Caution is definitely necessary Jan and I agree that we have to equip the homes with better resources. Not only do we have wheelchairs, but in today’s age we have stair lifts, lift chairs and adjustable beds.

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  • November 10, 2010 at 8:49 am
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    The elderly are more prone to falls than others and it is best that you try to prevent those falls if you are a child of an elderly by making the home more conducive to their lack of mobility. If you parent has to sit in a wheelchair, you could make it easier by getting a motorized wheelchair as mentioned above. Aging causes the bones to get very brittle and any damage can become irreparable. Caution is necessary.

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  • November 8, 2010 at 10:48 am
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    Donna – I agree that the elderly start to lose their mobility when they move a lot less. I had hernia Surgery when I was 8 and after being bedridden for nearly a week, I had to literally teach myself how to walk again. It took a week and a half before I was able to walk again, but for the elderly mobility/walking is a pleasure that they simply cannot get back once they lose it. I agree that it’s really very sad.

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  • November 8, 2010 at 12:45 am
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    Wrist fractures commonly cause RSD – reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This condition is more chronic in nature and can cause pain for prolonged periods after a fracture.

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  • November 7, 2010 at 11:47 pm
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    I’m really glad that though my mother is elderly and very thin (great appetite but walks a lot) has never sustained any type of fracture. She tripped the other day and fell quite hard but didn’t even hurt herself. I think she has strong bones; but then she has always eaten healthy well-balanced diet and still does. Is awful when an older person does sustain a fracture as not only does it take longer to heal; it also often results in a loss of confidence in case it should happen again.

    Patricia Perth Australia

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  • November 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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    Prevention is certainly better than cure.

    The elderly lose so much mobility when they are forced to stop moving any part of their body. It is often difficult to ever regain that lost mobility.

    Years ago I cared for a woman with multiple sclerosis. She used a manual wheelchair and was relatively independent. She broke her arm, was taken into hospital for recovery and by the time she returned home was completely unable to function as she used to.

    She went to a motorized wheelchair which she could only operate on “good’ days. Very sad.

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    • November 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm
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      Dawn, you’re absolutely right about the importance of prevention in this case. My uncle broke his hip after a fall and never recovered well either. I

      Falls in the elderly a very common and important issue. The consequences of these fractures on their quality of life is often enormous.

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  • November 5, 2010 at 9:57 am
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    Wrist fractures especially Colles fracture can be quite disabling if not treated properly. But prompt treatment with concurrent treatment of the osteoporosis can help to prevent complications.

    Reply

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