Osteoporosis Safety and Assistive Devices
Assistive devices are designed to help a person with a specific condition in their everyday lives. With osteoporosis, many of these are safety devices that are intended to limit the possibility of falls and injuries. Mobility aids are helpful for osteoporosis patients who have already sustained fractures and need assistance for support and stability. It also helps reduce any strain on the fractured bone that can further complicate healing. These mobility aids should not only be seen as a means to assist a person with moving around but also as a way to prevent injury and falls.
Types of Osteoporosis Assistive Devices
There are various types of safety and assistive devices for different parts of the body. Many of these devices are not solely for the osteoporosis patient and is useful in several other conditions especially where balance and stability is compromised.
- Medical walkers and walking canes are among the more common of the assistive devices. It helps with stability and support. This is useful in particular for the elderly who have underlying problems such as joint diseases, muscle weakness and nerve disorders. It allows the user to move around with some degree of independence although movement for certain tasks may sometimes be limited especially with medical walkers.
- Hip protectors help to prevent fractures of the hip bone which may occur with a fall. This is a common site of a fracture in patients with osteoporosis, particularly elderly patients. It is able to disperse the force as a result of direct impact during a fall. These pads may be soft or hard and can fit into specially designed underwear or be worn as a belt. Some underwear come permanently fitted with these hip protector pads. Although some research has shown that these devices are not extremely effective, it nevertheless gives osteoporosis patients more confidence in moving around without fearing falls and fractures to the hip.
- Spinal orthotics include neck collars and back braces. These devices help to immobilize parts of the spine and provide support and stability. It is may be used by osteoporosis patients who have sustained fractures of the vertebrae (spine bones). Neck collars and back braces can help relieve pain caused by collapsing vertebrae that pinches nerves. However, these devices should only be used as directed by a medical doctor.
- Stair lifts are useful tools to negotiate stairs, a common area where falls occur and fractures then arise especially by striking the edge of the step. Although stair lifts are not very affordable and often not opted for as a means to prevent injuries, it should be considered for an osteoporosis patient who has to travel up and down stairs and has problems with balance and stability. The elderly are particularly a high risk group in these instances and the first option should be to avoid stairs altogether. However, should climbing stairs be unavoidable then a stair lift is a viable choice.
- Seat lifts help a person rise from a sitting position. These devices may be fitted to any chair or some chairs are specially designed with a seat lift functionality. Affordable seat lifts are in most instances non-electronic but have a mechanism to provide some upward force as a person rises. It remains in its down position when the body weight is on it like when sitting down fully. Electronic seat lifts are only activated when one wants to rise from the sitting position. It can provide more force than a non-electric variety when and as needed.