July 15, 2014 5:05 pm
Updated: July 16, 2014 6:22 pm

Increasing number of young people receiving hip replacements: specialists


Watch above: More young people – even in their 20s – are getting hip replacement surgery. Su-Ling Goh tells us why.

EDMONTON – Young, physically active people don’t often come to mind as the typical patient for total hip replacement. But according to specialists at the University of Alberta, more young people are going through the procedure.

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“People are being more active,” said Kim Dao, a clinical assistant professor in physical therapy with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“They’re running more, they’re certainly playing different kinds of sports and even impact sports at a younger age. And so that causes the bone structure to be a little more prone to developing arthritis or other sorts of bone conditions.”

According to the Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute, since 2002, there has been a 110 per cent increase in the number of hip replacement surgeries performed on people between the ages of 20 and 59. Some of that is due to improved efficiency and technology, but also from young people pushing it too far, the organization says.

Following hip replacement, Dao says the end goal for rehab for older patients is usually just to get back to walking. And because younger people often have much different, more lofty end goals, their treatment must reflect that. That’s where the U of A’s Young Hip Program comes in. The program specifically treats young people who have undergone hip replacement surgery.

“Their goals are much different, so the goal poles need to be set a little bit further in terms of returning back to work and returning back to sports,” said Dao.

Cindy Uden had her hip replaced in April.

“I definitely did not fit the average age in the waiting room.”

The 38-year-old had hip dysplasia as a kid, and says her hip eventually “wore out” after years of dance, baseball, basketball and martial arts.

“The ball of my joint, the best description I can give you is it looked like a NERF soccer ball with chunks ripped out of it and then it was grinding on the socket. It was really rough.”

Since her surgery, Uden has been doing her physiotherapy through the U of A’s Young Hip Program. While the twice-per-week sessions are group-based, student therapists gear the exercises to each individual’s needs.

“They challenge us every week,” Uden said. “I will do the exercises because I don’t like sitting still. It drives me crazy.”

“The exercises are designed really so that even as the bone is healing, it’s to promote the muscles and the bone strength to absorb some of the impact when it comes to returning to higher level activities,” added Dao.

Dao says the youngest patient the program has treated was 20 years old.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News.


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