Stroke patients have a high risk of falling. 7% of falls occur in the first week after stroke when the patient is still in the hospital. Post stroke studies show that up to 37% of patients fall between 1 and 6 months and up to 73% of patients fall one year after a stroke.
And the statistics get more frightening. If you’ve had a fall after a stroke, you are more likely to have a second fall. If fact, the risk for falling after the patient has fallen once actually double. Falls lead to all types of injury and hip fractures are the most serious consequence of a fall.
The identification of patients at risk may be a first step toward the implementation of fall-prevention measures for these patients.
How to prevent falls in stroke patients
Fortunately there are several steps that you can take to prevent falls.
- Hospital staff must make an assessment of the patient’s risk for falling.
- Staff must provide information that can teach the patient and the family how to prevent a fall.
- Patients with stroke should enroll in a formal fall prevention program during hospitalization.
- Put things within hand’s reach so that the patient isn’t tempted to stretch.
- Keep the bed at the proper height during transfer and when the patient rises to a standing position.
- Remove environmental hazards that could make the patient slip or trip.
- Encourage the patient to ask for help. Many patients fall from losing their balance indoors or walking to the toilet.
Long term solutions
- Check the patient’s vision to make sure he sees clearly.
- Install additional night lighting.
- Check the patients medications. Some drugs can cause dizziness and lead to loss of balance. These drugs can sometimes be replaced with drugs that have fewer side effects.
- Studies show that long-term stroke survivors with depressive symptoms have the highest risk of falling. Take steps to remain positive.
- Stroke patients with poor postural control are more likely to fall. Enroll in an exercise class to gain muscle strength.
- Make sure you’re able to use your walking aid safely.
- Some studies show that sufficient vitamin D levels can help to reduce falls.
- Check chairs, toilets, and safety grab bars for potential safety problems.