Falls and injury prevention should be part of every stroke rehabilitation plan

Shylie F H Mackintosh, K. Hill, K. J. Dodd, P. Goldie, E. Culham

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Objective: To evaluate falls incidence, circumstances and consequences in people who return home after stroke rehabilitation, so that appropriate falls and injury prevention strategies can be developed. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Community. Subjects: Fifty-six subjects with stroke who were participating in a rehabilitation programme and returning to live in a community setting completed the study. Main measures: Subjects completed a prospective falls diary for six months after discharge from rehabilitation, and were interviewed after falls. Physical function was measured by the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and the Functional Independence Measure (FIM). Results: Forty-six per cent of people (26/56) fell, with most falls (63/103 falls) occurring in the two months after discharge from rehabilitation. One subject had 37 similar falls and these falls were excluded from further analysis. Falls occurred more often indoors (50/66), during the day (46/66) and towards the paretic side (25/66). People required assistance to get up after 25 falls (38%) and 36 falls (55%) resulted in an injury. People sought professional health care after only 16 falls, and activity was restricted after 29 falls (44%). The Berg Balance Scale and Functional Independence Measure scores were lower in people who had longer lies after a fall, and who restricted their activity after a fall (p < 0.05). Lower physical function scores were also associated with falling in the morning, wearing multifocal glasses at the time of a fall, and injurious falls (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Falls are common when people return home after stroke. Of concern are the small number seeking health professionals' assistance after a fall, the high proportion restricting their activity as a result of a fall and the number of falls occurring towards the paretic side.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

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