By Mandie Martuzzo, PT, and Maureen O’Connell, PT, DPT
We were saddened to hear of Brooke Shields recent femur fracture on Instagram. Femur fractures can be located in one of three portions of the bone, the proximal femur (upper portion), femoral shaft (middle portion) and the distal femur (lower portion). Because the femur is the longest bone in the body, most fractures are results from high force trauma, such as motor vehicle accident or a fall. Femur fracture following fall is more likely to occur in patients over 65 years of age.
Most femur fractures require surgical fixation in the form of Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF). A reduction refers to realigning the bone to allow for proper healing. The internal fixation hardware, such as screws, plates and rods, will keep the bone fragments in alignment as the bone heals. All patients will require significant rehabilitation following femur fracture due to the weightbearing demand of the longest bone in the body and the period of immobilization required following treatment.
What Will Brooke Shields Rehabilitation Be Like?
As demonstrated on her Instagram video, Brooke Shields has been taught how to walk with crutches while estimating the amount of weight she is putting through her injured leg. Too much weight will impede healing; not enough walking will multiply the effects of immobilization. Weightbearing may be restricted for as long as 12 weeks.
Initial therapy treatments may be aimed more at controlling pain and swelling with massage and gentle range of motion. Returning full motion to the joints of the hip, knee and ankle will be top priority, which will stiffen due to inhibition from pain and disuse. When enough healing has occurred, scar mobilization and strengthening the lower extremities will be initiated to address soft tissue restrictions and atrophy. Later stages of rehabilitation focus on restoring dynamic balance and return to patient-specific activity goals. Failure to fully rehabilitate this injury can increase the risk for complications such as chronic pain, inflammation and weakness that may cause difficulty walking and limit return to physical activities.
Recovery times vary for each patient, but we would expect Ms. Shields to return to normal activities within 4 to 6 months. We wish her success in her recovery and rehabilitation!