CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) -- Wearing a protective hip pad may do little to spare elderly nursing home residents from debilitating hip fractures, U.S. researchers said Tuesday.
In a study of more than 1,000 mostly women nursing home residents that was halted early because the hip pads proved so ineffective, the rate of hip fractures on protected hips was roughly the same as on unprotected hips.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston said newer hip pads should be tested thoroughly before being used by an expanding elderly population.
"In the United States, nearly 340,000 hip fractures occur per year, more than 90 percent of which are associated with falls, and the number of hip fractures may double or triple by the middle of this century," wrote Dr. Douglas Kiel of Harvard in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"The highest incidence rates of hip fractures have been reported in nursing home residents, where 50 percent of residents fall each year," Kiel wrote.
In the study, nearly three-quarters of the subjects wore a pad on one hip made from hard plastic and acetate foam.
The planned two-year study was terminated four months early when the incidence of hip fractures among protected hips (3.1 percent) was higher than among unprotected hips (2.5 percent). The difference was deemed to be statistically insignificant. E-mail to a friend
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