The Impact of Falls on Motor and Cognitive Recovery after Discharge from In-Patient Stroke Rehabilitation
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BACKGROUND: Falls are common among community-dwelling stroke survivors. The aims of this study were (1) to compare motor and cognitive outcomes between individuals who fell in the 6 months' postdischarge from in-patient stroke rehabilitation and those who did not fall, and (2) to explore potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between falls and recovery of motor and cognitive function. METHODS: Secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study of individuals discharged home from in-patient rehabilitation was conducted. Participants were recruited at discharge and completed a 6-month falls monitoring period using postcards with follow-up. Nonfallers and fallers were compared at the 6-month follow-up assessment on the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment (CMSA), gait speed, and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Measures of balance confidence and physical activity were also assessed. RESULTS: Twenty-three fallers were matched to 23 nonfallers on age and functional balance scores at discharge. A total of 43 falls were reported during the study period (8 participants fell more than once). At follow-up, BBS scores (P = .0066) and CMSA foot scores (P = .0033) were significantly lower for fallers than for nonfallers. The 2 groups did not differ on CMSA leg scores (P = .049), gait speed (P = .47), or MoCA score (P = .23). There was no significant association between change in balance confidence scores and change in physical activity levels among all participants from the first and third questionnaire (r = .27, P = .08). CONCLUSIONS: Performance in balance and motor recovery of the foot were compromised in fallers when compared to nonfallers at 6 months post discharge from in-patient stroke rehabilitation.
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