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How this 98-year-old walked four days after hip replacement surgery despite a bad fall

‘Quick reaction is necessary when an older adult has a fall. A surgical procedure will help restore the patient’s mobility. Also, this patient showed how being fit in early years helped him recover miraculously,’ says Dr Yash Gulati, Consultant Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement and Spine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi

hip replacement surgeryA chirpy nonagenarian, Mr Srinivas had a fall at home and fractured his hip bone.
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Normally, it is doctors who give hope to patients. In this case, it was the other way round. Ninety-eight year-old N R Srinivas motivated Dr Yash Gulati, Consultant Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement and Spine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, to perform a hip surgery on him despite his age. Not only that, such was his determination to get back on his feet that he stood up the morning after his surgery, walked a few steps and after four days, was discharged with a walker for support. “Not many younger and healthier patients make that kind of recovery,” says Dr Gulati.

A chirpy nonagenarian, Mr Srinivas had a fall at home and fractured his hip bone. That day Dr Gulati happened to be at a friend’s home nearby and on hearing about the case, examined Mr Srinivas and admitted him to the hospital immediately. “I recovered because doctors were very quick in responding to my fracture and doing an intervention. Otherwise, I would have been in extreme pain. And now I can move about and reclaim my rhythms,” he says. A former adviser with the United Nations and later a consultant with the Government, Mr Srinivas has been with illustrious peers like former Vice President Krishan Kant and senior Congress leader Karan Singh in school.

Dr Gulati, who has done many hip replacement surgeries and made patients take a few steps the very next day, wasn’t sure of his patient’s speedy recovery. “We did a bipolar cemented arthroplasty that lasted an hour. An artificial joint with two bearings replaces the damaged joint. The bearings allow the head to swivel during movement, preventing wear and tear on the hip joint. This procedure works best for hip fractures among older adults. Hip fractures can negatively affect a person’s mobility, mental health and overall independence. But in Mr Srinivas’s case, the recovery was miraculous. That’s because he didn’t have any major health concern that we needed to factor in during surgery. The most important takeaway is that ageing well has a lot to do with an active and disciplined lifestyle during your early years. And while we may not be able to avoid certain diseases that develop along the way, we can certainly prevent co-morbidities with lifestyle correction, diet, sleep and exercise. Our patient was not only a disciplinarian but has been a swimmer and travelled a lot in his capacity as UN advisor. And he has an extremely positive and determined spirit. Which is why we were amazed when he not only stood up the morning after his surgery, he even walked a few steps. It has been two weeks and with physiotherapy he is doing well,” says Dr Gulati.

“Falls are common in the elderly and measures need to be taken to prevent them. But should a patient get a fracture around the hip in the older age group, it needs to be addressed quickly and surgery should be done quickly to put the patient back on their feet. Otherwise, an untreated patient in a bed-ridden state can develop complications that could be life-threatening,” Dr Gulati adds. His advisory to prevent falls among the elderly: “I would recommend simple balance and strength exercises which should be done in the presence of a family member or care-giver. Ensure there are enough grab rails for support in the bathroom and in the room of older adults. And make sure they keep moving. Fitness is ageless.”

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First published on: 24-01-2023 at 12:54 IST
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