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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Padded pants 'reduce fracture risk'
Padded pants
Tests are being carried out on the padded pants
Scientists are testing reinforced pants specially designed to reduce the risk that older women will suffer hip fractures.

The pants have a hard polypropylene case each side like a shin pad to protect the hips in the case of a fall by diverting the impact away from the bone.

They are designed to be worn over normal undergarments but beneath clothes.

The research is being carried out by Dr David Torgerson, from the University of York.

Dr Togerson hopes to recruit 4,500 volunteers from around the country to test the pants.

Elderly women are particularly vulnerable to hip fracture because their bones lose strength with age.

Women who meet the requirements of the study will be asked to wear the pants every day - and night - for two years.

They will be compared to women who continue to wear their usual underwear.

Each group will be asked to fill in a questionnaire ever six months giving information on any falls, the consequences of those falls and the impact on their mobility.

'I feel safe'

Erna Wells
Erna Wells is testing out the pants

Erna Wells volunteered to take part in the study after breaking her hip in a fall earlier this year.

"If I was to fall down again and break my hip it would be terrible.

"It is nice to wear these pants so that I feel safe."

Osteoporosis-related hip fractures are estimated to cost the NHS 940m a year, and take up 1 million bed days a year.

One five women who suffer a hip fracture survive for less than six months.

If the pants are found to be effective the aim is to make this more widely known, and hopefully to make them a prescription item available through the GP.

The researchers are keen to hear from women aged 70 years who meet one of the following criteria:

  • they have broken any bone in the past
  • weigh nine stones or less
  • smoke
  • have a family history of hip fracture
Volunteers should ring Ruth Hildreth on 01904 434121 or Yvonne Birks on 01904 434125.

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