To provide local residents with a visual reminder of the impact of broken bones, Deakin University medical researchers have built a ‘Fracture Stack’ with the help of local primary school students. The stack of plaster casts will be on display in the Market Square during the National Healthy Bones Action Week, which begins on 3 August.
“Our Geelong Osteoporosis Study data shows that more than 9000 fractures occur each year in the Geelong and surrounding region,” said Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen, a Senior Research Fellow with the Deakin Medical School’s IMPACT Strategic Research Centre based at Barwon Health.
“With funding from a City of Greater Geelong Community Project Grant (2015) and modelled on an installation developed by the National Bones Health Alliance in the United States, we engaged more than 300 students from Ocean Grove Primary School to make and paint plaster casts of their arms and/or legs.
“The brightly coloured casts have been built into a ‘Fracture Stack’, to represent the more than 750 fractures that occur in Geelong every month and will serve as a reminder to every one of the importance of caring for their bones.”
Poor bone health increases the risk of fracture, with one fracture occurring every 3.6 seconds in Australia in 2013, Dr Brennan-Olsen explained.
“Recent Australian data suggests that the costs attributable to fractures and poor bone health are $2.75billion per year, and this is set to increase in light of our ageing population,” she said.
“Around 4.74 million Australians, or 66 per cent, of people over 50 years of age have poor bone health, including osteoporosis. Poor bone health greatly increases the risk of fracture.
“Of course, fractures are not just an older person’s problem. Younger people are also prone to fractures, mostly due to falls or accidents, with a 1.5-fold greater fracture incidence in young men before the age of 30 years compared to young women. Approximately 40 per cent of fractures in younger people occur at the wrist or forearm.”
Dr Brennan-Olsen said that most fractures are preventable, especially fractures related to osteoporosis.
“Following these tips will go a long way to ensuring strong, healthy bones for people of all ages,” she said.
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Tips for healthy bones:
- Include 3-5 serves of calcium in your diet each day; a serving size is equivalent to one glass of milk (250ml), a tub of yoghurt (200g), or a slice of cheese (40g).
- Spend some time in the sun to boost vitamin D levels. Having the arms exposed for between 6-8 minutes during summer and 25 minutes in winter would provide sufficient UVB exposure; however, exposure times are based on season, location and skin type. For people who are Vitamin D deficient, a supplement may be required; your health practitioner will provide advice on this.
- Do some weight bearing exercise such as jogging, stair climbing, skipping or dancing, and combine it with muscle strengthening exercises such as resistance training or lifting weights
- Avoid smoking and curb your alcohol intake
- Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns