ABCNews.com—October 15, 2008
Former first lady Nancy Reagan is hospitalized in Los Angeles due to a fracture in her pelvis and sacrum.
According to Drake, Reagan, 87, will remain at UCLA for the next few days and will then return home once doctors are satisfied with her progress.
The type of fracture experienced by Reagan is not uncommon among elderly women with osteoporosis, orthopedic experts said. A fracture of the pelvis bone occurs most frequently when a patient breaks a fall with the buttocks, though this fracture can also occur in osteoporosis patients randomly during any activity.
It has not been confirmed whether Reagan has osteoporosis, but the condition, which causes diminished bone density, is common in older women after menopause.
Dr. Charles Cornell, orthopedic trauma surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, explained that Reagan's recovery will probably consist of a short two-week period of immobilization, followed by about four to six weeks of physical therapy.
"I think absolutely she will require assistance at home probably initially around the clock," Cornell explained. "She'll need people to help her move from bed to bathroom and people to prepare meals for her and help her get dressed, and she will be fairly disabled early on for two to three weeks, but she should start feeling better after that and her function will return."
After the first two to three weeks of relative immobilization, Cornell said that Reagan will begin working with a physical therapist at home to increase her mobility. He noted that Reagan will require a walker to ease the amount of pressure on her fractured pelvis, and will most likely be prescribed mild pain medication that should allow her more freedom to move around without pain.
"For about three weeks, the pain is pretty bad so [she will probably be] limited to household ambulation, walking only short distances with a walker," Cornell said. "Then, once she starts to feel better, the therapist will work on restorative exercises to overcome any atrophy that might have set in from this period of inactivity."
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