Falls a risk after stroke survivors leave hospital
During the 6-month period following a stroke, falls are common and often result in injury requiring medical treatment, according to surveys of more than 1000 stroke survivors in New Zealand.
Once stroke patients leave the hospital, their risk of falling is double that of people who haven’t had a stroke, Dr. Ngaire Kerse of the University of Auckland told Reuters Health.
“Fall prevention should be part of stroke rehabilitation,” she stressed.
Kerse’s team interviewed 1104 stroke survivors, average age 71 years. According to their report in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, 407 patients (37 percent) reported having a fall in the 6 months since their stroke. Most falls occurred at home and indoors.
Among those who had fallen, more than one-third suffered an injury that required medical treatment, and 8 percent sustained a fracture.
“Our findings highlight the need for fall prevention interventions,” Kerse continued. “For all older people, proven strategies involve mobility retraining (already a part of stroke rehab) and occupational therapy assessment and modification of hazard risk at home,” such as ensuring appropriate lighting, removal of obstacles and installation of transfer rails.
Still, little is known regarding strategies that would be most beneficial to stroke patients. To bridge that gap, Kerse and her associates are planning a fall-prevention trial for stroke survivors living in the community.
SOURCE: Stroke, June 2008.
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