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Open Access Study protocol

The FLASSH study: protocol for a randomised controlled trial evaluating falls prevention after stroke and two sub-studies

Frances A Batchelor12*, Keith D Hill13, Shylie F Mackintosh4, Catherine M Said56 and Craig H Whitehead7

Author Affiliations

1 National Ageing Research Institute, PO Box 2127, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

2 School of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

3 Musculoskeletal Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Latrobe University and Northern Health, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia

4 School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia

5 Rehabilitation Sciences Research Centre, School of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne, c/o Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, Kew Victoria 3101, Australia

6 Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria 3081, Australia

7 Division of Rehabilitation, Aged Care and Allied Health, Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia 5043, Australia

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BMC Neurology 2009, 9:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-14

Published: 31 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Falls are common in stroke survivors returning home after rehabilitation, however there is currently a lack of evidence about preventing falls in this population. This paper describes the study protocol for the FLASSH (FaLls prevention After Stroke Survivors return Home) project.

Methods and design

This randomised controlled trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-factorial falls prevention program for stroke survivors who are at high risk of falling when they return home after rehabilitation. Intervention will consist of a home exercise program as well as individualised falls prevention and injury minimisation strategies based on identified risk factors for falls. Additionally, two sub-studies will be implemented in order to explore other key areas related to falls in this population. The first of these is a longitudinal study evaluating the relationship between fear of falling, falls and function over twelve months, and the second evaluates residual impairment in gait stability and obstacle crossing twelve months after discharge from rehabilitation.

Discussion

The results of the FLASSH project will inform falls prevention practice for stroke survivors. If the falls prevention program is shown to be effective, low cost strategies to prevent falls can be implemented for those at risk around the time of discharge from rehabilitation, thus improving safety and quality of life for stroke survivors. The two sub-studies will contribute to the overall understanding and management of falls risk in stroke survivors.

Trial registration

This trial is registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN012607000398404).