Hunger as children during Shoah stymies survivors’ rehabilitation today after hip fractures

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May 11, 2017 04:25

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SURVIVORS GATHER at the Jewish Holocaust Center in MelbourneRABBI PINCHAS ZEKRY

SURVIVORS GATHER at the Jewish Holocaust Center in Melbourne. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Holocaust survivors who suffered hunger as children have been found to recover much less successfully from hip fractures in old age than those who were not incarcerated in concentration camps.

This was discovered by research just published in the Israel Medical Association Journal by researchers at the Shmuel Harofeh Geriatric Hospital in Be’er Ya’acov and Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical Faculty.

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Researchers Eliyahu Mizrahi, Emilia Lubart, Anthony Heymann and Arthur Leibovitz found that not only were survivors more likely to fall than those who had not gone through the Holocaust, but when they suffer hip fractures – whose complications can be fatal – their rehabilitation was less successful when measured by the Functional Independence Measure.

They studied 140 elderly patients admitted after hip fracture surgery to the hospital’s geriatric rehabilitation ward between 2010 and 2105. Their mean age was 82.5 years, and 62% were women.

Forty-one percent were Holocaust survivors. After controlling for other factors, they found that survivors were significantly more likely to have lower Functional Independence Measure numbers after treatment for their hip fractures.

The survivors as youngsters suffered from “hunger osteopathy,” in which their bones suffered damaged due to inadequate diets and hunger.

In addition, the researchers reported that routine examination by a physician, illness and hospitalization caused them significant stress. Some even showed psychotic symptoms such as delusions of being in the camps again. “As a result, due to misinterpretation of the medical staff’s actions and motives, the survivors may suffer from severe anxiety. They also show more depression and chronic pain.”

This was reportedly the first study on the effect of being Holocaust survivors and the results of rehabilitation after hip fractures.


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