Medical Protection Technologies has introduced the Fall-Safe® Hip Protector into the U.S. healthcare market, featuring pads made from D3O®—a unique shock-absorbing material that is soft and flexible in its natural state but instantly rigid when struck suddenly by an outside force.
Fall-Safe Hip Protectors offer the unique combination of rigidity when needed—to absorb the shock of the fall—yet softness and comfort at all other times, even while sleeping. D3O, described as having “intelligent molecular engineering,” has long been successfully used for impact protection in the sports, military, law enforcement, and consumer electronics industries. It is now being deployed for the first time in the healthcare arena for the benefit of people who, due to osteoporosis, age or frailty, are particularly at risk for hip fractures caused by falls. Hip protectors are specialized undergarments containing a pair of pads designed to prevent hip fractures following a fall onto the hip. Hip protectors are commonly used in nursing homes and other elder care facilities, as well as in the home. However, hip protector design, materials, effectiveness, and wearing comfort vary significantly among available products, and most exhibit a decline in impact-absorbing performance following even a single impact.
According to Stephen Robins, M.D., CEO of Medical Protection Technologies, the Fall-Safe Hip Protector is significantly more effective at absorbing sudden impacts, and it maintains its ability to protect against hip fracture even after repeated impacts. A recently completed independent comparative study of leading soft- and hard-shell hip protectors revealed that the Fall-Safe Hip Protector afforded 30–57 percent more impact protection under controlled laboratory testing conditions. The Fall-Safe Hip Protector was significantly superior to all other pad materials—both soft- and hard-shell products—in reducing the impact force transmitted.
Robins said wearing comfort also is critical to hip protectors being worn all the time. “No matter how effective they are at reducing the impact of a fall, if hip protectors are perceived to be unsightly or uncomfortable, older adults simply won’t wear them—a problem that has been illustrated in numerous studies,” Robins said. “Unlike the flat form of most other pads, the D3O-containing Fall-Safe Hip Protector pads are concave and sculpted to fit the body, and have grooves and holes to promote breathability. They also remain soft and flexible until the moment of impact, allowing them to achieve unmatched effectiveness, durability, comfort, and low profile—all keys to successful hip protector implementation.”
For many older adults and their families and caregivers, the prospect of a hip fracture causes significant anxiety. And rightly so—hip fracture is one of the most devastating and costly health issues impacting older adults. One in five hip fracture patients dies within one year of the injury, and of those who survive, many are left with long-term functional impairment and loss of independence. Just the fear of falling often causes older adults to limit their activity, which in turn leads to reduced mobility, weakness, and subsequent increased fall risk.
Hip fractures also impose an enormous economic burden on patients, families, and society. The average cost for inpatient hip fracture care in the United States is around $26,000 per episode, which does not include the significant additional costs associated with skilled nursing care. Experts estimate that treating hip fractures will cost $16 billion or more in the U.S. by 2020.
About Medical Protection Technologies
Medical Protection Technologies, based in Friday Harbor, Wash., is the exclusive North American provider of medical device products made from the unique shock-absorbing material D3O®. Its initial product, the Fall-Safe® Hip Protector, offers the ideal combination of high impact protection and wearing comfort—even when sleeping—thereby enhancing compliance with hip protection protocols. As a result, it offers significant fracture-prevention and cost-saving potential for both at-home and institutional use.