Reducing Fall Risk Among Stroke Survivors

Falls can compound the effects of a stroke, and specific characteristics of stroke survivors make this population more susceptible to falls. Therefore, implementing fall prevention strategies in your environment is essential to your long-term health and well-being.

Higher Fall Risks For Stroke Survivors

As many as 75 percent of stroke survivors will suffer a fall during their first year of stroke recovery. Several factors specific to stroke survivors influence this risk, including:

  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Mobility impairments and gait changes
  • Medication side effects of dizziness or drowsiness
  • Cognitive changes
  • Depression

With stroke survivors facing all of these risk factors, it’s clear that fall prevention should be a priority for this population.

Falls: The Consequences

Falls are a major underlying reason for serious short-term and long-term disability, especially in older adults. The following negative outcomes may be associated with a fall in stroke survivors:

  • Possible fractures (especially in stroke survivors who also have osteoporosis)
  • Potential of suffering additional brain trauma
  • Subsequent hospitalization and rehab
  • Increased medical costs

Obviously, avoiding these serious consequences offers a compelling reason to create a fall prevention plan.

Your Plan For Preventing Falls

With some thought and attention, you can make your environment safer and eliminate tripping hazards. Incorporate the following steps into your fall prevention plan:

  • Secure or remove throw rugs that could present tripping hazards
  • Keep walkways free of clutter
  • Practice exercises to improve your posture
  • Use adaptive mobility equipment as needed.
  • Monitor for depression symptoms and seek treatment as needed.
  • Get your vitamin D levels checked, because some research suggests that low vitamin D levels are associated with a higher fall risk

You can work with a physical or occupational therapist to develop your fall prevention plan. Ideally this professional will be providing treatment in your home and can tailor their recommendations to your environment. However, PTs and OTs in an outpatient setting can offer guidance, as well. Are you are doing everything possible to reduce your fall risk and the negative consequences associated with falls? Check in with your care team to see if they have any suggestions of ways that you can make your environment safer.