Falls are the most common and expensive medical complication in stroke survivors. There is remarkably little information about what factors lead to a fall in stroke survivors. With few exceptions, the falls literature in stroke has focused on relating metrics of static balance and impairment to fall outcomes in the acute care setting or in community. While informative, these studies provide little information about what specific impairments in a stroke-survivor's response to dynamic balance challenges lead to a fall. We identified the key kinematic characteristics of stroke survivors’ stepping responses following a balance disturbance that are associated with a fall following dynamic balance challenges. Stroke survivors were exposed to posteriorly-directed translations of a treadmill belt that elicited a stepping response. Kinematics were compared between successful and failed recovery attempts (i.e. a fall). We found that the ability to arrest and reverse trunk flexion and the ability to perform an appropriate initial compensatory step were the most critical response contributors to a successful recovery. We also identified 2 compensatory strategies utilized by stroke survivors to avoid a fall. Despite significant post-stroke functional impairments, the biomechanical causes of trip-related falls by stroke survivors appear to be similar to those of unimpaired older adults and lower extremity amputees. However, compensatory strategies (pivot, hopping) were observed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering