We hear a lot about older people falling and fracturing their hips.  For a lot of seniors, the injury sets in motion a series of unfortunate events.

But the cascade of events isn’t just set in motion by hip fractures.  Any orthopedic injury that limits mobility can have the same effect.

Loss of mobility has profound social, psychological and physical consequences.

Suzanne Salamon, M.D. is a geriatrician and instructor at Harvard Medical School.  She’s explained:

 

If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places. So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on.

 

Mobility is the most studied and most relevant physical ability affecting quality of life.  It has a strong prognostic value for disability and survival.  Researchers at the National Institute of Aging note:

 

Slower walking speed (most commonly assessed using usual walking speed achieved during a timed walk test over a short distance) and other multisystem performance measures of physical function (such as the time taken to rise from a chair and sit down several times, or tests of balance) are consistently associated with poorer well-being and quality of life.…

 

Decreased mobility also translates to decreased agility.  Decreased agility puts people at a higher risk for another fall and orthopedic injury.

It’s not just hip fractures.  Any injury that affects mobility—especially in seniors—is serious, permanent and life altering.