Pope Benedict XVI Fractures Wrist in Fall

Pope Benedict XVI broke his wrist today while on vacation in the Alps. The Pope, 82, continued to celebrate Mass and eat breakfast before going to the hospital to have the wrist examined. The Pontiff required surgery under local anesthesia to realign the bones to their proper positions. Reducing the fracture in this way helps the fracture heal better and faster. It is reported that the procedure went well.

The term “wrist fracture” is frequently used to describe a fracture of the bones of the forearm (lower arm), closest to the hand. The forearm is made up of two bones, the radius and ulna, which attaches to a collection of bones which make up the wrist proper. A wrist fracture may involve one or both bones and frequently occurs when a person falls on an outstretched arm.

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It has been reported that the Pope slipped in the bathroom.  This would not be at all surprising. The bathroom is the most dangerous room of the house. People can slip and fall on wet surfaces, be scalded by hot water, get electrocuted from appliances, drown in the tub or accidentally poison themselves with chemicals. There are about 200,000 bathroom accidents per year, nearly 70 percent of all home accidents!

How to prevent bathroom accidents?

  • Make sure the bathroom floor is not wet (even shower mist can make a tile floor slippery) by putting nonskid bathroom mats by the tub and sinks.
  • Minimize moisture by opening the window a crack or using an exhaust fan
  • Use a plastic bath mat or have a built-in, non-slip textured surface inside the tub/shower
  • Make sure all electrical outlets in the bathroom are properly grounded and keep electric appliances away from sources of water.
  • Replace, remodel or protect sharp-edged or sharp-cornered furniture and accessories in the bathroom. They become additional points of injury in a slipping situation.
  • Add handrails around toilets and in showers, for people who may need extra stability.
  • Make sure hot water heater settings on are not set above 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above this can cause burns within a matter of seconds, especially in children.
Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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