Physical Therapy Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether performance on measures of lower extremity muscle strength, sensory function, postural control, gait speed, and balance self-efficacy could distinguish fallers from nonfallers among ambulatory individuals with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D).

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Community.

PARTICIPANTS: Individuals (N=26; 6 female, aged 58.9±18.2y) with motor incomplete SCI/D (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale rating C [n=5] or D [n=21]) participated. Participants were 7.5±9.1 years post injury. Seventeen participants experienced traumatic causes of spinal cord injury.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants completed laboratory-based and clinical measures of postural control, gait speed, balance self-efficacy, and lower extremity strength, as well as proprioception and cutaneous pressure sensitivity. Participants were then followed for up to 1 year to track falls using a survey. The survey queried the circumstances and consequences of each fall. If a participant's number of falls equaled or exceeded the median number of falls experience by all participants, they were classified a faller.

RESULTS: Median follow-up duration was 362 days and median time to first fall was 60.5 days. Fifteen participants were classified as fallers. Most falls occurred during the morning or afternoon (81%), at home (75%), and while walking (47%). The following laboratory-based and clinical measures distinguished fallers from nonfallers (

CONCLUSIONS: There are laboratory-based and clinical measures that can prospectively distinguish fallers from nonfallers among ambulatory individuals with spinal cord injury. These findings may assist clinicians when evaluating their patients' fall risk.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.