An FDA-approved bone quality diagnostic tool is poised to provide better insights into bone hardness

By Sonia Fernandez
Santa Barbara, CA

UCSB physicist Paul Hansma discusses how to improve bone health

It’s a fact of life: As we get older, our bones tend to get weaker, and the risk of fractures and other bone injuries threatens our mobility and diminishes our ability to live full, healthy lives. It’s a growing challenge especially for populations such as ours in the United States that are both aging and living longer, to avoid the cycle of decline that comes with bone breaks and immobility that in turn results in even weaker bone and greater risk of fractures.

“Half of women over age 50 will have an age-related bone fracture sometime in their lifetimes, due to osteoporosis,” said UC Santa Barbara physics professor Paul K. Hansma. For men, the probability is less, about 25%, which is still significant considering that just over a third of the current U.S. population is more than 50 years old. That’s a lot of wrist breaks, vertebral traumas and hip fractures.

While we’ve made great strides in our understanding of bone aging and how to treat fragile bones with medications and weight-bearing exercises, getting ahead of the problem is still our best bet for avoiding age-related bone injuries.

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