A wrist fracture, or broken wrist, occurs when the radius, ulna, or any of the eight bones that connect the two are broken. The most common bone broken is the radius, which is more specifically known as the distal radius fracture.
Nursing Home Fall Prevention Responsibilities
Nursing homes must take several measures to limit the risk of nursing home residents and patients from being injured in fall accidents.
Depending on a particular patient’s needs, proper equipment should be provided to ensure that the risk of falling has been minimized. For example, ensuring that handrails are installed in the bathroom to aid with bathing and other activities is an important precaution in preventing against shower falls. Likewise, providing bathing chairs for patients that are unable to stand for the duration of a shower can also help prevent muscle fatigue that ultimately leads to a fall. While falls are certainly a significant source of wrist fractures, dropping a nursing home patient can also lead to wrist fracture.
You can learn more about prevention and the responsibilities of nursing homes on our Nursing Home Fall Injuries page.
Causes and Symptoms
Wrist fractures usually arise from trauma when falling onto an outstretched hand (i.e., a scaphoid fracture, when the scaphoid bone of the hand near the wrist breaks).
When the wrist breaks, there tends to be pain, bruising, and swelling, and sometimes it can be difficult to use the hand or wrist. Numbness in the fingers can also occur and the wrist can appear deformed.
Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Doctors will perform an examination and take an x-ray to see if any bones are broken. A CT scan (computed tomography scan, also called a CAT scan, is a type of specialized X-ray) can then be used to obtain additional information about fractured bones and any other injuries to surrounding tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
Treatment for wrist fractures depends upon the type of break that has occurred, how weak the bones are, overall health of the patient, and any other injuries that have occurred in addition to the wrist fracture. For example, the fracture can either be stable, where the bones either have not been displaced or have been set back into place, or unstable, where the bones can continue to shift even after being put back into position.
Depending upon the severity of the fracture and whether the bones are unstable, surgery may be required. A splint or cast may first be used in order to align the bones. With open fractures, where the bone has punctured and protrudes out from the skin, infection can develop in the bone if not treated properly. Fractures can also be fixed by using screws, rods, pins, plates, or external fixation. In severe cases, a bone graft can be used to help facilitate the healing process.
One of the most common distal radius fractures is the Colles fracture, where the radius breaks and tilts upwards as a result. Other types of distal radius fractures include open, intra-articular, extra-articular, and comminuted fracture.
Movement and physical therapy can be helpful to restore motion and strength, but overall recovery can take at least six to eight weeks, sometimes even months, and in the event that arthritis develops in the joint, additional surgery may be necessary. Follow-up x-rays are typically necessary in order to monitor the healing of the bones.
Massachusetts Nursing Home Fall Injury and Transfer Accident Attorneys
If you believe your loved one suffered a broken wrist or another serious injury as a result of negligence or carelessness by a nursing home staff member, medical professional, or caregiver, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your loved one. To find out, contact our experienced nursing home neglect lawyers today for a free consultation.
We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
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