fall risk

HOUSTON — Patients’ neurological status and degree of weakness or loss of movement when hospitalized for a clot-caused stroke may indicate their risk for falling.

According to research released Tuesday in a nursing symposium at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017, more than 90 percent of 683 ischemic stroke patients participating in the study at an urban hospital in 2013-2015 walked independently before arriving at the hospital.

Those who fell were an average 67 years old and 82 percent were men. Most had visible changes to the small vessels in the brain, and 36 percent had strokes impacting the middle cerebral artery of the brain. Ninety percent who fell had weakness or partial loss of movement when first examined in the hospital.

The researcher found that the falls greatly increased with the length of hospital stay. Meanwhile, stroke patient falls accounted for 6 percent of all falls among adult inpatient medical-surgical patients.

Other results the researchers found:

— Falls didn’t increase when patients were treated with the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA.

— Having a higher average National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score at hospital admission was associated with an increased fall risk. The tool evaluates stroke patients’ neurological status.

Fall rates in the study were lower than those previously reported, which could reflect more vigilance among nurses and other providers and widespread use of fall prevention strategies, researchers said.