7 Questions to Ask the Physical Therapist After a Broken Hip

Helping Seniors
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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.

Laurie Udesky

Laurie Udesky has covered health and medical issues for National Public Radio (NPR); produced features for "Crossroads," a cross-cultural program that aired on NPR; and served as a reporter or editor for medical trade journals such as TB Monitor and AIDS Alert. See full bio

almost 4 years, said...

My mom who is 86 just broke her hip.surgery is Tuesday due to heart medication she takes.. I live away from her. I will he going home to care for her. What is the time frame that I might need to plan for? She is a feisty one and nothing slows her down..but think this igjt..

over 4 years, said...

My husband has LBD and now has fallen and has a hairline fracture and pelvic injury. He was in the hospital overnight but let him go home without doing surgery. The doctors said to be careful and don't do any weight bearing. When the PT came they gave exercises while sitting and in bed. He is supposed to be able to go a short distance to the bathroom which he does quite often. This happened 7 days ago and now he is experiencing more pain. How can I keep him protected without injuring him more. Mek

over 6 years, said...

Why mention parent, I am 46 and fell onto an iron rod in a cemetery (genology purposes) and broke my hip, (femure neck) I have 3 screw and non-weight bearing for 6 weeks, which is tomorrow, ( go back to doc day after tomorrow) I will have a follow-up xray to see if am allowed to bear a "tiny" bit of weight yet..So not all broken hip belong to OLD folks.

almost 7 years, said...

It has been almost a year since the post from dressage rider---wonder how she is doing? I am also a dressage rider,as is a friend of mine who just had her hip replaced--and she has a very busy high end sales and training barn... Sports medicine doesn't have data on how the older fit female athelete rehabs from these types of injuries....i guess we better show them!

almost 7 years, said...

.....most helpful were the "don't do's" and the sleeping comfort advice, however it should be mentioned that for patients with good upperbody strength (possibly younger?) the use of crutches in rehab is sometimes appropriate. They will assist in maintaining a general level of fitness and activity that will also contribute to the mental wellbeing of the patient during convalescence.

almost 8 years, said...

I am 55 years old I fell in a hole in a parking lot and my foot was stuck I fell over backward, and broke my hip in 3 places, and chipped my trocanter. I had surgery and now have four pins and a gamma nail to my knee. I am 3 weeks post op, and luckily my reg. nurse daughter flew from CA., to take care of me. I also have relapsing polycondritis. My pain is severe from the broken hip. How long will it take to go away? I am allergic to NASADS, what drugs are appropriate for me. My polychondritis is also severely painful, I almost feel like life like this is not worth it.