Falls among dizzy patients in primary healthcare: an intervention study with control group

Int J Rehabil Res. 2008 Mar;31(1):51-7. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e3282f28e2c.


The objective of this study is to investigate whether vestibular rehabilitation can improve balance, reduce self-perceived handicap because of dizziness and, if possible, reduce falls among dizzy patients in primary healthcare. The study also finds out which of the balance measures and measure of self-perceived handicap, if any, predicted the risk of falls. The design of this study is an intervention study with control group. Fifty-eight patients, 65 years and older, with multisensory dizziness were taken as participants. The intervention group trained vestibular rehabilitation twice a week for 9 weeks. All patients were assessed at baseline and after 3 months, with four different balance measures and the Dizziness Handicap Inventory. After 6, 9 and 12 months, a follow-up by telephone was performed and, at 12 months, the patients also filled out a Dizziness Handicap Inventory questionnaire. Statistically significant differences were found between the groups between baseline and 3 months in one static balance measure and in one dynamic measure (P=0.038 and 0.044). In total, 40 falls were reported, 31 were classified as intrinsic falls, 26 of them caused by vertigo and nine falls were classified as extrinsic. No difference was found between the two groups in proportions of patients who fell. Poor ability to stand in tandem stance doubled the risk for falls. Vestibular rehabilitation can improve balance in elderly patients with multisensory dizziness. Vertigo is a common cause of falls in this group of patients and vestibular rehabilitation is a feasible treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Dizziness / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postural Balance
  • Primary Health Care