Risk of falling: predictors based on reduced strength in persons previously affected by polio

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Jun;83(6):757-63. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2002.32827.


Objectives: To examine the contributions of sensorimotor factors to postural control and falling in people with prior polio and to determine whether these contributions differ from those found in normal populations.

Design: Survey and case-control study.

Setting: A falls and balance laboratory in Australia.

Participants: Forty persons with prior polio (age range, 28-71 y) and 38 age- and sex-matched control subjects.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Lower-limb muscle strength, sway, vision, lower-limb sensation, reaction time, foot-tapping speed, and falls.

Results: Compared with the control subjects, the prior polio subjects performed similarly in sensory tests but worse in tests that involved a motor component. Within the prior polio group, lower-limb strength was strongly associated with postural sway on a compliant surface and explained more of the variance in sway than in control subjects. Prior polio subjects who fell multiple times had reduced lower-limb strength, slower reaction time, lower foot-tapping speed, and increased sway compared with those who fell less often. However, the rate of decline in lower-limb strength within the prior polio group did not exceed normal, age-related changes.

Conclusions: This investigation of prior polio subjects provides an appropriate model for studying muscle weakness as a falls risk factor. Weakness was directly associated with falls, and had an indirect effect mediated through increased sway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Posture
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk