For Clinical

How do you know if hip protectors work?

The first question to consider is how much impact energy will a hip protector shield absorb in the event of a fall, after all that is why you are recommending them, to provide protection to the hip bone in the event of that fall. The more energy they absorb the better the protection.

All hip protector suppliers will claim their products have been tested and their shields absorb high levels of impact energy. That is simply not true.

Clinical staff advocating hip protectors for a resident that has been assessed as a falls risk would benefit from credible comparative testing evidence in order to make an informed decision before advising the family about which product to buy. A good resource is a peer reviewed article discussing testing of hip protectors recently published in the Osteoporosis International Journal where various shields were tested comparatively one after the other in accordance with the Canadian draft Standard by the bio engineers at Cardiff University. This University is one of only two in the world that has the testing equipment to test to the Standard. The ranked testing results are on page 7 of the article.

Below are the results of the testing done at Cardiff University to the Standard with the shields ranked best to worst -  #1 being the best performing and #18 being the worst performing. 

Another aspect for a clinical manager to consider is the falls profile of their resident. If they have dementia a hip protector with the shields sewn into the pockets may work best as the resident will be unable to remove them. If the resident is cognitive or complaint the removable shields are a good option and more economical as a pair of shields can be replaced into new underwear while the used underwear laundered. Most resthome clinical mangers will buy 3 pairs of underwear, one pair on the resident, one pair in the laundry and one pair in the underwear draw available for use if needed.