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Neurologists Should Assess Falling Risk in Patients

Practice parameter addresses screening methods and assessments to identify at-risk patients

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- During visits with patients who have conditions linked to an increased risk of falling, neurologists should inquire about recent falls and conduct further examinations to identify specific neurologic deficits that predict falls, according to a practice parameter published in the Feb. 5 issue of Neurology.

David J. Thurman, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues from the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology reviewed 86 articles that measured non-syncopal falls as an outcome and addressed practical screening methods that neurologists can use to assess at-risk patients.

The researchers found an established risk of falling among patients with stroke, dementia, and disorders of gait and balance, and a probable risk of falling among patients with Parkinson's disease, peripheral neuropathy, lower extremity weakness or sensory loss, and significant vision loss. They also found that any falls within the past year were a strong predictor of future falls. Although they identified some functional assessments that may be useful in assessing risk, they said that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that these provide benefits beyond a standard neurologic examination, and called for additional prospective studies.

"If substantial risks of falls are identified, appropriate interventions that are described in other evidence-based guidelines may be considered," the authors conclude.

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