Helping people stay on their feet

Researchers have embarked on a new study to discover whether patients are falling at home after surgery and how to further improve their care after they leave hospital.

The study, a collaboration between St John of God Murdoch Hospital and the University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Physiotherapy among others, aims to provide valuable information about the incidence of falls and quality of life after surgery in patients undergoing total hip and total knee replacement.

Nurse Researcher Dr Gail Ross-Adjie from St John of God Murdoch Hospital says the numbers of total hip and total knee replacement surgeries are increasing, largely due to our aging population, but information is lacking about falls rates in this group.

“We know that people over the age of 65 are at increased risk of falls but we have no information about whether patients fall more or less after this type of surgery,” says Dr Ross-Adjie.

Researchers have set out to discover this information by gathering baseline data on this incidence of falls and quality of life in the first 12 months after major joint replacement surgery.

The study, which begins in 2015, also aims to determine patients’ falls risk awareness, knowledge of falls prevention strategies, levels of engagement with falls exercise programs after operations and the economic cost of falls, should they occur.

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Hill from the School of Physiotherapy at Notre Dame University Australia says the study is the first to document and quantify the health costs associated with falls.

“The gathered data will inform us on the economic impact of falls on the health system,” says Professor Hill.

“It will also help us to provide high quality care as we will find out what affects satisfaction with the process of undergoing a joint replacement operation in WA.”

Six hundred patients from St John of God Murdoch Hospital will be recruited for the study. Patients will be invited to participate once they are in hospital and eligible patients will be asked to provide some baseline information in hospital then followed up with monthly telephone calls for 12 months.

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