Hip and Knee Replacement May Lower Fall Risks For Elderly Patients: Study

The findings of a new study suggest hip or knee replacements may reduce the risk of falls in nursing homes and among the elderly.

In a report published last month in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, researchers from New York University say the U.S. faces an increasing rate of traumatic falls among the elderly; both those living at home or in nursing homes.

The study sought to determine whether older patients with low extremity osteoarthritis could benefit from total joint arthroplasty and reduce their risk of falling. Data from the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database was used, involving half a million cases where the primary diagnosis was hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) from 2000 to 2015.

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The findings indicate there were 168,234 primary hip replacement surgeries, and 275,651 knee replacement surgeries in the database during that time. The researchers found that, compared to patients who did not undergo total joint arthroplasty (TJA) procedures, those who did cut their risk of falling nearly in half.

“TJA is associated with a decreased risk of long-term traumatic falls in elderly patients with a primary diagnosis of hip or knee osteoarthritis,” the researchers concluded.

In one study published in The BMJ in 2015, researchers warned that osteoporosis or osteoarthritis do not cause falls, but are the biggest predictors of a bone fracture occurring.

Other studies have indicated falls, particularly those occurring in nursing homes, could be reduced through the use of fewer antipsychotics, and better staffing levels.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year. In fact, 29 million senior citizens fell in 2014 alone. About 20% of those falls leads to a serious injury, like a broken bone or head injury.

Nearly every 20 minutes a person over the age of 65 dies from a fall. Among senior citizens, falls are the most frequent cause of injury, and once a senior falls, they are more likely to fall again.

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