Preventing Broken Hips

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Former President Ronald Reagan is recovering from an operation to repair a broken right hip. Mr. Reagan broke his hip in a minor fall earlier this month at his home in California. He will be ninety next month.

Doctors operated on Mr. Reagan for about an hour. They put metal pins in the hip to repair the break.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries to older people in the United States. Experts say that one of every three Americans age sixty-five years and older falls each year.

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons represents doctors who treat disorders of the skeleton and muscles. The group is a leading provider of information to doctors worldwide.

It reports that hip fractures are a serious health problem common among older men and women. A hip fracture is a break near the upper part of the leg. A person with a broken hip finds it usually hurts too much to stand. The leg may shorten or turn outward. The injured person should be taken to a doctor immediately.

Every year, doctors in the United States treat more than three-hundred-forty-thousand patients for hip fractures. Only one in four patients recovers completely. Twenty percent of people with hip fractures die within one year after they fall.

Bone is a living tissue. Bones high in the chemical calcium are strong. Yet, all bones weaken, generally beginning when people reach about age thirty-five.

Hip fractures often are a direct result of falling. However, some people are more likely than others to experience the problem.

Women have two to three times as many hip fractures as men. People with a family history of broken bones later in life also face an increased risk. So do people whose bodies have trouble using calcium or who do not have enough calcium in their diet. Hip fractures also have been linked to cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, poor eyesight, and some mental conditions.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has developed a list of suggestions to help you avoid falls. Eat foods that include enough calcium and Vitamin D. Take part in exercise programs for strength and balance. Remove objects that you might fall over in your home and surroundings. And, never walk without some protection on your feet.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English