A hip protector is a specialized form of pants or underwear containing pads (either hard or soft) along the outside of each hip/leg, designed to prevent hip fractures following a fall. They are most commonly used in elderly individuals who have a high risk of falls and hip fractures (for example, due to history of a previous fall and underlying osteoporosis).
A previous review found that the effect for preventing hip fracture among nursing home residents was small and not effective among community dwelling elderly individuals. A 2007 review found a decreased risk of hip fractures in elderly nursing home residents.
Research which has found hip protectors to be beneficial found that hard, energy-shunting hip protectors to be superior to soft, energy-absorbing ones. Another study showed that hip protectors' design and mechanical properties vary drastically among commercially available hip protectors.
Hip protectors are either of the "crash helmet type" or "energy-absorbing type". The "crash helmet type" distributes impacts into the surrounding soft tissue, while the "energy-absorbing type" is made of a compressible material and diminishes the force of impact. Both of these systems aim to reduce the focused force beneath an estimated fracture threshold.
Several different commercially available hip protectors exist, such as the GeriHip (Prevent Products, Inc.,USA), Impactactive Hip Protectors (Impactactive Hip Protectors, USA), Lyds Hip Protector (Lyds International BV, The Netherlands), Safety Pants (Raunomo Oy, Finland), Safehip (Tytex A/S, Ikast, Denmark), the AHIP Protector (Astrotech, Vienna, Austria) and the KPH hip protector (HRA Pharma, Paris, France).
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