Wrist Fracture: Heavy Impact On Everyday Life
Wrist fractures have an important personal and public health impact and may hasten the development of disability in older people.
A wrist fracture is the most common upper extremity fracture in older adults and can affect everyday tasks like carrying heavy objects, opening doors, cutting food, pouring liquid, turning a key, and getting out of a chair. The precise impact on functional decline -- the ability to carry out usual daily activities -- has not been well studied. So a team of U.S. researchers set out to quantify the clinical impact of wrist fractures in a group of older women.
The researchers identified 6,107 healthy women, aged 65 years and older, who had no prior wrist or hip fracture. Five activities of daily living were used to measure functional decline -- meal preparation, heavy housekeeping, ability to climb 10 stairs, shopping, and getting out of a car. Participants were examined approximately every two years for an average of 7.6 years.
During the study period, 268 women suffered a wrist fracture. These women were nearly 50 percent more likely to experience clinically important functional decline, even after accounting for demographic, health and lifestyle factors. In fact, the effect of a wrist fracture on functional decline was clinically as significant as other established risk factors such as falls, diabetes and arthritis.
The authors were quoted as saying, "Our findings highlight the personal, public health, and policy implications of wrist fractures." They call for greater public health awareness of the impact of wrist fractures, including measures to prevent wrist fractures and prompt rehabilitation after a wrist fracture to facilitate full recovery.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal (BMJ), July 8, 2010.