One in four adults over 65 who suffer a hip fracture die within a year. That is why University of Canberra student Beth Warner is dedicating her Bachelor of Physiotherapy Honours project to improve rehabilitation measures for the injury.
After suffering a broken hip herself, Ms Warner said the rehabilitation project was a painful process, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
“I found it difficult to find any information on what my recovery timeline would look like, and that was very frustrating – as was navigating the system itself, because they only wanted to book me in for the required physiotherapy six weeks after I was discharged from hospital,” she said.
“Even though I was already a Physiotherapy student then – and younger than the average person who breaks their hip – the rehabilitative process wasn’t easy for me. So, what is it like for older people who may be less experienced with the system?”
Ms Warner is calling on up to eight older participants for her Honours project, who have either experienced a hip fracture, or cared for someone who has.
Her aim is to create a rehabilitation program that is more client-focused than the one she endured.
“There’s a lot of research out there that explores what the best interventions might be, but I have not seen much that focuses on what it’s really like to go through rehabilitation,” she said.
“This is really important from physiotherapists’ point of view, so that we can provide rehabilitation in a patient-centric way.”
Based on current health advice, Ms Warner will be conducting her interviews online to adhere to physical distancing measures.
The study is being co-supervised by Assistant Professor in Physiotherapy, Dr Angie Fearon, and Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Professor Jennie Scarvell, from UC’s Faculty of Health.
Professor Scarvell said she encouraged appropriate participants to take part in the project.
“I think Canberrans in general are very civic-minded and contribute to the community wherever they can – but many are now feeling they have diminished capacity to do so because of physical distancing and isolation,” she said.
“Participating in this research is a great opportunity to contribute to research that will positively impact people’s health, and even save lives.”
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