How do I know if mom needs rehabilitation after a hip injury?


Q: How do I know if my mom needs rehabilitation after her hip injury? She is in a lot of pain.

A: The goal of rehabilitation services—occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology—is to maximize function and quality of life. The type of rehabilitation service your mother would require would depend on the new difficulties and problems your she is experiencing as a result of her hip injury.

If the hip injury has adversely affected your mom's ability to perform daily tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, or toileting, occupational therapy may be the most appropriate. If the hip injury has resulted in pain, or a reduced ability to get in or out of bed, to get up from a chair, to walk safely, or to get in or out of a car, then physical therapy may be more appropriate. Physical therapy is also a good non-medicinal option to pain management and there are several ways a physical therapist can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of the pain.

Both occupational therapy and physical therapy services can be provided in the home, outpatient office, hospital, long term care facility or adult day center. How often and for how long rehabilitation services are needed will depend on the specifics of the injury itself, your mom's current status as well as her status immediately before the injury. If the hip injury was the result of a fall, physical and occupational therapists will also identify and treat fall-risk factors, such as tripping hazards and other environmental issues, unsteady walking, or poor balance, to prevent another fall from occurring.

Melanie Sponholz is a Physical Therapist with a Board Certification in Geriatrics (GCS). Melanie is the Director of Quality Assurance and Professional Development at Fox Rehabilitation. She is an alumnus of Columbia University where she received a Master of Science Degree in Physical Therapy.

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My mother fell and shattered the top of her femur. Surgery was done and she received a rod down her femur that was screwed to her present hip joint. We have discovered that the walker she was using for four months had been set two inches too high causing her to swing her injured hip out to her side. Now that the walker has been repositioned, will Mom be able to assume a more normal gait. My mother is 93. This unusual gait has caused her to be very tired and off balance. Thank you for your response.