Original Research

The physical impact of long bone fractures on adults in KwaZulu-Natal

Sevani Singaram, Mergan Naidoo
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 76, No 1 | a1393 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v76i1.1393 | © 2020 Sevani Singaram, Mergan Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 September 2019 | Published: 20 August 2020

About the author(s)

Sevani Singaram, Department of Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Mergan Naidoo, Department of Family Medicine, Medical School, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: Limb fractures are increasingly common in low-income and middle-income countries due to an increase in motor vehicle and other accidents. Fractures may often lead to physical impairment that affects an individual’s ability to carry out tasks.

Objectives: To assess the physical impact of long bone fractures on adults in KwaZulu-Natal.

Method: A standardised questionnaire pertaining to activities at home and leisure was used to establish patient-reported outcomes at nine public hospitals. English-speaking and isiZulu-speaking participants who had sustained a single long bone fracture in the preceding 4 to 12 weeks at the time of data collection were included. The following activities were evaluated: walking, running, exercising, driving, performing household chores, writing, answering telephones, texting on a cell phone, bathing, using crockery and preparing meals.

Results: A total of 821 participants completed the questionnaire. Ninety-three per cent had closed long bone fractures and 69 per cent were lower limb fractures. Fifty-seven per cent of the fractures were caused by a fall. Female participants (p = 0.19) with lower limb fractures were more likely to have greater difficulty in performing tasks and participants 60 years of age and older (p = 0.001) were significantly more likely to have difficulty performing tasks.

Conclusion: These findings illustrate the daily limitations in patients’ everyday activities at home, leisure and in activities such as driving.

Clinical implications: This study highlights the difficulty that some individuals, particularly women and individuals 60 years of age and older, face in performing daily tasks after experiencing a long bone fracture.


long bone fracture; physical impact ; performing tasks; limitations; KwaZulu-Natal


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