Fracture recovery

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in people aged 65 and over. Our research is focused on improving fall-related hip fracture treatment.

The most common injuries for people over 65 that require hospitalisation comprise hip fracture, fracture of the leg, fracture of radius, ulna and other bones in the arm and fracture of the neck and trunk. The most serious of these is fracture of the hip. Older people recover slowly from hip fracture and are vulnerable to a number of potential post-operative complications.

Factors that make a hip fracture more likely include:

  • Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weaker, making them more susceptible to fracture.
  • Gender: women lose bone density more quickly than men due to a decrease in oestrogen levels after menopause begins.
  • Poor nutrition in childhood increases hip-fracture risk. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia damage bones.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use: smoking and drinking too much can lead to bone loss.
  • Medications: taking four or more medications at a time or taking any psychoactive medications are risk factors for falling, possibly leading to a hip fracture.
  • Home environment: throw rugs and electrical wires are tripping hazards, as are a lack of stair railings and grab bars, unstable furniture, and poor lighting.
Our research approaches

The Australian and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry (ANZHFR) is a clinician-led audit of hip fracture care established to provide data that will inform practice and drive better hospital care for people with a hip fracture. Established in 2015, the Registry stores data collected by participating hospitals and provides a mechanism for service providers to use this data to drive change in practice at a local level and ultimately to improve the care and optimise outcomes for older people who have fractured their hip.

Our research discoveries

Our research has shown that across New South Wales, there is significant variation in the time older people have to wait for their hip fracture surgery, with the conclusion that more could be done to expedite care.

Our other research in the same area has demonstrated that a particular approach to caring for hip fracture patients is associated with a lower 30-day mortality rate. When orthopaedic surgeons and geriatricians look after a hip fracture patient together, the outcomes seem to be better for older people. This approach to care is being recommended across Australia.