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What prevents falls after strokes? Study: Not much

Reuters Health, August 6, 2010

While most stroke survivors will suffer falls, strategies to prevent these dangerous events continue to fall short, suggests a new study from Australia. Up to three in four stroke survivors fall within six months of their stroke, and these falls can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones. "Although research has shown that fall prevention programs including exercise are effective for older people, it was unclear whether these, or any other interventions, work for people with stroke," lead researcher Francis Batchelor, MD, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, told Reuters Health. So Batchelor and his colleagues carefully reviewed the relevant research to date and pooled together the results of 13 studies that enlisted a total of nearly 1,500 people. The studies analyzed a wide range of interventions to prevent falls after strokes, from strength training to medications, report the researchers in the journal Stroke. However, the only strategy their review found to be effective was vitamin D supplementation, and even that only worked for women in nursing homes and other institutions at least two years after they had suffered a stroke.