Fall Prevalence and Contributors to the Likelihood of Falling in Persons With Upper Limb Loss

Matthew J. Major*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background Arms are important for locomotor stability and preventing falls by controlling whole-body angular momentum, redirecting the body's center of mass, and providing support to arrest descent. Hence, upper limb loss (ULL) can increase fall risk. However, the prevalence of falls and factors that influence fall risk have not previously been reported for people with ULL. Objective This study quantified fall prevalence in persons with ULL at or proximal to the wrist and identified clinical factors that contributed to the likelihood of falling. Design This was a cross-sectional study. Methods Factors including body and health characteristics, activity level, fall history, prosthesis use, and balance confidence were determined for persons with ULL proximal to the wrist using an online survey. Logistic regression analyses assessed the contribution of these factors to the classification of fallers (≥2 falls in previous year) and nonfallers. Results A percentage (28.6%) of participants (n = 105) reported experiencing 2 or more falls in the past year. The regression model (R 2 = 0.473) correctly classified 84.5% of cases and indicated that increased likelihood of falling was significantly influenced by reduced balance confidence, use of upper limb prostheses, and reduced physical capabilities. Limitations Data were collected online from a convenience sample, and fall classification was based on retrospective data. Conclusions Falls in persons with ULL are prevalent, suggesting that clinicians should use screening methods to identify at-risk individuals. Balance confidence, use of upper limb prostheses, and perceived physical capabilities could be useful screening metrics. Research is warranted to better understand the factors that underlie fall risk in persons with ULL and the efficacy of therapeutic interventions capable of mitigating fall risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-387
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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