Objectives: Many polio survivors have symptoms that are known risk factors for falls in elderly people. This study aims to determine the: (i) frequency; (ii) consequences; (iii) circumstances; and (iv) factors associated with falls in polio survivors.
Methods: A survey was conducted among 376 polio survivors. Participants completed a falls history questionnaire and additional information was obtained from their medical files.
Results: Of the 305 respondents, 74% reported at least one fall in the past year and 60% two or more. Sixteen percent of fallers described a major injury after a fall in the last year and 69% reported fear of falling. One-third of fallers had reduced the amount they walked because of their fear of falling. Most reported falls in a familiar environment (86%), during ambulation (72%) and in the afternoon (50%). Quadriceps weakness of the weakest leg (Medical Research Council (MRC) ≤ 3), fear of falling and complaints of problems maintaining balance were independently associated with both falls and recurrent falls, while increasing age and medication use were not.
Conclusion: The high rate of falls and consequences thereof, merit the implementation of fall intervention strategies. To maximize effect, they should be tailor-made and target the fall mechanisms specific to polio survivors.