Background and aims: Using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this study aimed at: 1) investigating differences in the incidence of falls between chronic Stroke subjects (n = 181) and matched Non-stroke subjects (n = 181) who were 65 years or older and community dwellers, and 2) establishing factors associated with falling within chronic Stroke subjects.
Methods: Subjects reporting a history of stroke 12 or more months ago, and age- and gender-matched Non-stroke subjects were extracted from the first wave of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing database. Falls incidence and factors associated with falling were examined. Falls data were collected based on recall of the number of falls in the past year, including falls that did not result in injury.
Results: Significantly more Stroke subjects reported falling in the previous twelve months than Non-stroke subjects (36 vs 24%, p < 0.05). When comparing Stroke Fallers to Stroke Non-fallers within the Stroke group, Stroke Fallers were significantly more likely to report (i) difficulty in stooping or kneeling, (ii) getting up in the night to urinate more than once, and (iii) having a greater number of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living problems (p < 0.05). Self-reported difficulty in stooping or kneeling was the most significant factor associated with falling in the Stroke group (OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.30-4.58).
Conclusions: Falls are a problem for community dwelling older people with chronic stroke and are associated with physical function difficulties. Factors identified in this and other similar studies should form the basis for targeted falls prevention programs in this high falls risk clinical group.