After a hip fracture, it's a good idea to leave the physical therapist's office armed with essential information. Here's what you'll need to ask to help your parent get back on track.
What kind of exercises do you recommend?
Exercises vary depending on such factors as the severity of the hip fracture, whether your parent is experiencing pain, where the fracture is located, the type of treatment recommended for it, and whether your parent has osteoporosis.
How often should my parent do these exercises?
Your parent's physical therapist will make an assessment and recommendations; your parent may be able to do some exercises more often than others.
Can you show me what I need to look for to make sure my parent is doing movements appropriately?
Ask the physical therapist to show you how your parent should move, so you can coach her once you get home. For example, if your parent is getting up from a chair, she should know how to do so without straining the fractured hip. The physical therapist might demonstrate how to assist her or watch her technique -- for instance, making sure she uses her hands and lets the uninjured leg bear her weight.
Are there some movements my parent shouldn't do?
Generally after hip surgery you shouldn't bend forward more than 90 degrees, sit with crossed legs, or point your feet inward while lying on your back. The physical therapist can illustrate these and other movements your parent should avoid.
What's my parent's weight-bearing status?
After a hip fracture, the doctor might allow your parent to have full, partial, or no weight bearing on the injured hip.
Based on my parent's weight-bearing status, how can I make sure her cane, walker, or wheelchair fits appropriately?
You may need to adjust canes, walkers, and wheelchairs for the correct fit. The physical or occupational therapist can suggest appropriate adjustments.
Do you have any recommendations for the best positions for sitting and sleeping?
If, for example, your parent requires bed rest and she sleeps on her side, a physical therapist can tell you how to position pillows around her so she doesn't feel discomfort in the hip. Or if she's using a wheelchair, she may need a cushion so her bottom doesn't get sore. Typically, you may need to place cushions or pillows wherever bones protrude.