Prevent Falls After Stroke

NeuroRehab Team
Sunday, August 22nd, 2021



 

Falls can happen anytime and anywhere to people of any age. However, as people get older, or suffer neurological injuries such as stroke, the number of falls and the severity of injury resulting from falls increases. Taking precautions to prevent falling after stroke can help save a life. Falling is the leading cause of accidental home deaths, and they are a major reason for 40% of admissions to nursing homes.

Furthermore, up to 37% of patients fall within the first 6 months after stroke; and up to 73% have fallen one year after a stroke. This means that if steps aren’t taken to prevent falling after stroke, it’s likely to happen.

 

Ways to Prevent Falling After Stroke

Below are various ways to help stroke survivors avoid falling at home.

 

1. Improve Leg Strength and Mobility

With stroke, weakness is only affected on one side of the body. This can cause difficulty with balance, especially if the legs are affected.

If you struggle with leg weakness, try participating in a daily at-home rehabilitation regimen that incorporates leg exercises. This can help improve strength and coordination in your leg muscles, which will improve balance.

2. Improve Balance and Strength

Therapists make it a priority to help patients prevent falls after stroke. They understand that the activities of daily living (like getting dressed and eating) require you to move around your home. It’s often a great idea to ask your OT for recommendations on how to prevent falling after stroke.

They may recommend balance exercises. A stable core is essential for improving balance, as your core muscles help stabilize your entire body. Therefore, balance- and core-focused exercises are great ways to reduce the risk of falling as you move about your daily life. Also, considering these balance tools to help you with your recovery.

3. Improve Foot Drop

A possible secondary effect of stroke called foot drop can cause difficulty lifting the front part of your foot. This greatly increases your risk of tripping and falling after stroke.

One way to manage foot drop is with a drop foot device, which is a brace that holds your foot in place. This can increase safety as you walk around and helps reduce the risk of falling.

It often works best to use a combination approach of using an AFO whenever you’re moving about your day; and also practicing foot drop exercises daily to help address the root problem too. Your physical therapist should be guiding you on how to treat your foot drop appropriately to maximize recovery and increase safety.

4. Make sure your vision is intact

Sometimes stroke affects your vision. In these cases, you can develop a condition known as field cuts where you can’t see a portion of your environment. This increases your risk of falling because you can’t clearly navigate your environment. There are many other vision impairments that can occur after a stoke as well, however field cuts are among the most common.

There’s also a condition called hemineglect where stroke patients do not notice things on their affected side. It’s not because they can’t see, but they don’t have the awareness in that area. This can also make it dangerous to navigate your home and increases the risk of falling.

Here are some vision solutions that can help you with your independence.

5. Modify Your Home for Safety

Home safety is a must in preventing falls. When you return home after stroke, your occupational therapist will send you home with ideas/strategies to modify your home for safety. Sometimes, they may even be able to come to your home and recommend ways to increase safety and prevent falls.

Common recommendations for home modifications include:

  • Adding non-slip mats and grab rails to the bath
  • Adding a transfer bench to the bath and/or a shower chair to a shower
  • Clearing walkways of obstacles
  • Raising the height of toilet seats
  • Covering cords to avoid tripping
  • Removing throw rugs or other floor mats that are a tripping hazard

Fall prevention is a important safety concern for stroke survivors, caregivers, and family members. Everyone is encouraged to work together to improve safety around the house to reduce the risk of falling. Prevention is the best cure. Making the effort now can save future unwanted medical bills or assisted living situations. Never hesitate to slow down or ask for help.

 



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