Study design: Mail survey of participants with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI).
Objective: To describe the incidence, circumstances, consequences, and perceived contributory factors associated with falls among ambulatory individuals with incomplete SCI.
Setting: Southeast region of the United States.
Methods: A survey instrument was developed largely from existing measures and mailed to individuals with incomplete SCI to collect self-reported information on participant characteristics and fall-related variables.
Results: Seventy-five percent of study participants sustained at least one fall over the previous year. Even though most injuries were minor, 18% of fallers sustained a fracture and 45% reported reduced ability to get out into the community and engage in productive activity. Factors perceived to contribute to falls most often were decreased strength in the trunk and lower extremities, loss of balance, and hazards in the environment.
Conclusions: Falls occur frequently and often have significant consequences among ambulatory individuals with SCI. These data may assist rehabilitation professionals to identify those at risk and implement fall prevention strategies.
Sponsorship: This project was supported by a grant from the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund Grant # 0703.