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Bone Health Program Provides Structure, Support for Those at Risk for Fracture

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute intervenes with proactive bone health measures

Bone Health program at Lehigh Valley Health Network and Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Scott Sexton, MD, has had a career in orthopedic trauma surgery for 18 years and has treated more than 5,000 fragility fractures. While the job is fulfilling, there’s one clinical component that he’s found discouraging: secondary fractures.

“There’s sometimes this moment where the fracture has healed and you think you’ve done a great job, only to see that same person back 18 months later with another fracture. It’s somewhat demoralizing as a doctor, and it is very frustrating and life changing for the patient,” explains Dr. Sexton, who is Director of Orthopedic Trauma for Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute and Director of the Bone Health Program.

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute has taken a giant proactive step forward regarding intervention, Dr. Sexton says, opening a program that focuses on providing a variety of resources for patients who are at risk for fracture due to osteopenia or osteoporosis. The Bone Health Program uses a team approach to treating and preventing future fractures.

The underlying issue

Both in the Lehigh Valley and across the country, older adults experience fragility fractures, in which they commonly damage the hip, spine, pelvis, shoulder or wrist from a ground-level fall. While weakening bone due to osteopenia or osteoporosis are typically to blame, a mere 20 percent of people who sustain these fractures ever get evaluated or treated for those conditions, Dr. Sexton says. “Historically, we’ve done a poor job making that intervention happen,” he adds.

A team approach to bone health

Through Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute’s Bone Health Program, a team of specialists from orthopedics, rehabilitation and nutrition develop customized plans to improve individuals’ bone health, often to prevent a second fracture after an initial one. The team recommends lifestyle optimization that includes vitamins and supplements, regular exercise, and fall prevention. They use DEXA scans, blood tests, and physical and family history to get a clearer picture of bone health, and may also prescribe medications that can help build new bone.

The team educates people about falls while correcting imbalances and stability issues. The individual remains at the center of care as a vital contributor in shared decision-making about bone health interventions.

“We don’t want them to fear doing their normal activities,” Dr. Sexton says. “If they do happen to fall, we want them to have the confidence that something is not going to break, necessitating another surgery. We’ve created a team approach that explores every avenue to let each person maintain their active lifestyle.”

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To refer a patient or to request an appointment, call 833-LV-ORTHO.


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