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Hip fracture: getting mobile again

The aim of surgery is to allow a patient to get up and put weight onto their hip straight away. After their operation, your loved one will have some pain and discomfort to start with and will feel weaker than usual. This is perfectly normal and should improve as they continue to recover.

People tend not to have much pain when they are resting, but their pain killers need to be adjusted so that it is possible for them to get up and start moving around.

Rehabilitation usually begins on the day after surgery, when a physiotherapist will carry out an assessment and provide an exercise programme that sets out a series of goals to achieve. Something as simple as getting out of bed for lunch can be an important first step on the road to recovery.

“I think what upset my dad was that he expected to wake up with a plaster cast. I wish someone had explained this to him before his operation because he was really scared to move after his op.”

(Patient and Carer Panel member) 

How you can help

Words of encouragement can go a long way in helping people follow their rehabilitation plan. Each sign of progress, even if it just getting out of bed for a meal, deserves praise as this helps to keep their morale up.

Some patients will need extra support with walking, getting to the toilet and performing the exercises recommended by the therapist. This is especially true for those with dementia or delirium, where it is important to get back to familiar routines as quickly as possible.

Everyone will experience some initial pain and discomfort and feel weaker than usual. Reassure them that this is perfectly normal and should improve as they continue to recover.

Planning for rehabilitation at home

The person you care for will need a rehabilitation plan, information about their expected recovery and advice about returning to activities such as work, hobbies and driving.

As their carer, it’s a good idea to speak to the therapy team before your loved one is discharged. For example, you may want to ask how you can help the person you care for perform their exercises and make sure they do them correctly at home.

You may also want to alert the team to things in the home such as steps and stairs that may cause difficulties. It may be useful for therapists visit the home before discharge and advise on a suitable living space.

Ask what forms of rehabilitation will be available after they leave hospital and for the contact details of the hospital therapy team so you can get in touch if you need to after discharge.

Find out more

Hip Fracture: a guide for family carers aims to ensure that carers are equipped with the information they need to support the recovery of the person in their care.