Gait asymmetry, ankle spasticity, and depression as independent predictors of falls in ambulatory stroke patientsReport as inadecuate

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Falls are the leading cause of injury in stroke patients. However, the cause of a fall is complicated, and several types of risk factors are involved. Therefore, a comprehensive model to predict falls with high sensitivity and specificity is needed.


This study was a prospective study of 112 inpatients in a rehabilitation ward with follow-up interviews in patients’ homes. Evaluations were performed 1 month after stroke and included the following factors: 1 status of cognition, depression, fear of fall and limb spasticity; 2 functional assessments walking velocity and the Functional Independence Measure FIM; and 3 objective, computerized gait and balance analyses. The outcome variable was the number of accidental falls during the 6-month follow-up period after baseline measurements.


The non-faller group exhibited significantly better walking velocity and FIM scale compared to the faller group P < .001. The faller group exhibited higher levels of spasticity in the affected limbs, asymmetry of gait parameters in single support P < .001, double support P = .027, and step time P = .003, and lower stability of center of gravity in the medial-lateral direction P = .008. Psychological assessments revealed that the faller group exhibited more severe depression and lower confidence without falling. A multivariate logistic regression model identified three independent predictors of falls with high sensitivity 82.6% and specificity 86.5%: the asymmetry ratio of single support adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.2–3.8, the level of spasticity in the gastrocnemius aOR = 3.2 1.4–7.3, and the degree of depression aOR = 1.4 1.2–1.8.


This study revealed depression, in additional to gait asymmetry and spasticity, as another independent factor for predicting falls. These results suggest that appropriate gait training, reduction of ankle spasticity, and aggressive management of depression may be critical to prevent falls in stroke patients.

Author: Ta-Sen Wei, Peng-Ta Liu, Liang-Wey Chang , Sen-Yung Liu



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