Objectives: To describe the frequency and circumstances of falls among a community sample of people with stroke and to compare characteristics of fallers and nonfallers.
Design: Cross-sectional, observational study.
Participants: Forty-one community-dwelling people with stroke (26 men, 15 women; mean age, 69.7 +/- 11.6y), of which 23 had right-hemisphere infarction, 16 left-hemisphere infarction, and 2 had a brainstem lesion. Time since onset of stroke ranged from 3 to 288 months (mean, 50mo).
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: Standardized tests were used to measure mobility, upper limb function, activities of daily living (ADL ability), and mood. Information about fall events was collected by using a questionnaire.
Results: Twenty-one participants (50%) were classed as fallers, of whom 10 had fallen repeatedly. No significant differences were found between fallers and nonfallers on any of the measures used. However, those who had 2 or more falls (n = 10) had significantly reduced arm function (P = .018) and ADL ability (P = .010), compared with those who had not fallen or experienced near falls (n = 5). Loss of balance, misjudgment, and foot dragging during walking, turning, and sit to stand were reported by fallers as the suspected causes and activities leading to falls.
Conclusions: The high risk of falling among people with stroke was evident in this community-based sample. Repeat fallers had greater mobility deficits and significantly reduced arm function and ADL ability than those who did not report any instability.
Copyright 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation