Background and aims: Falls and fractures in older people are a common health problem. Patients with distal forearm fracture are at risk of sustaining new fractures. The aim of this work was to describe the characteristics of this patient group.
Methods: Sixty women and six men, mean age 68 years (50-86), with a recent fall-related distal forearm fracture, filled in a questionnaire about medical history, previous falls and fractures. Handgrip strength on the non-fractured side, one-leg standing, walking tests, and test of vibration sensation were measured and a video-nystagmoscopy was performed.
Results: One-third of the subjects had fallen during the last year, and one-third had had previous fall-related fractures during the last 10 years. Half of the patients took medication and were examined for chronic ailments regularly. Handgrip strength, balance and walking capacity declined with age and were similar to reference values. In three patients, the vibration sensation value was above the threshold value. Fifty patients (76%) had nystagmus, but no relationship between fall direction, physical performance and nystagmus was found.
Conclusions: Although apparently healthy, many patients exhibited risk factors for new falls and fractures. Our recommendation is that these patients should be screened for fall and fracture risk and be targeted for preventive measures, besides fracture treatment. Physical therapists must play a major role in increasing and maintaining general physical functions in this patient group.