Walking aid use after discharge following hip fracture is rarely reviewed and often inappropriate: an observational study

Susan Thomas, Julie Halbert, Shylie Mackintosh, Ian Cameron, Susan Kurrle, Craig Whitehead, Michelle Miller, Maria Crotty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Questions: What walking aid prescription occurs at discharge after hip fracture? What changes in walking aid use occur in the following six months? Who initiates changes in walking aids and why? Design: Prospective longitudinal observational study. Participants: 95 community-dwelling older adults who had undergone surgical treatment of a hip fracture. Outcome measures: Range of walking aids prescribed at discharge and participants' recall of advice about progression were recorded. Progression of walking aids was observed fortnightly over 6 months. With any change in walking aid use, an independent physiotherapist determined if it was appropriate and participants reported the reason for the change. Results: Most participants were discharged from their final inpatient setting with a wheeled frame (92%). Eighty-two (86%) participants were not aware of any goals set by the physiotherapist for the first 6 months and 89 (94%) stated that a review time had not been set. Despite this, 78 (82%) participants changed their walking aid, on average 8 weeks (SD 6) after discharge. However, 32% of those who changed their walking aids were using an inappropriate aid or using it incorrectly. Six months after discharge, 40% of participants had not returned to using their pre-morbid indoor aid and 50% their outdoor aid. Conclusion: A review of walking aid by a physiotherapist is rare within six months after discharge following hip fracture. Most patients make their own decision about what walking aid is most appropriate. This has safety implications in a group at high risk of falls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-272
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Frail elderly
  • Hip fracture
  • Physiotherapy
  • Walking aid


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