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Clin Rehabil. 2001 Aug;15(4):437-44.

A pilot study of attention deficits, balance control and falls in the subacute stage following stroke.

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Rehabilitation Research Unit, University of Southampton, UK.



To (1) identify and monitor changes in deficits of attention and balance in the subacute stage following stroke, (2) investigate fall events, (3) explore relationships between deficits of attention, balance and falling post stroke.


A prospective observational study.


Hospitalized patients with stroke were recruited from a rehabilitation ward.


Fourteen subjects were recruited, 13 subjects (age 21-80 years) completed all assessments. Ten had right and three had left hemispheric lesions. Eight subjects were male.


Subjects were assessed on two occasions during a six-week period. Standardized tests were used to measure unilateral visual neglect, sustained and selective attention and balance. Fall histories were collected by chart review and semi-structured interview.


At the initial assessment six subjects had sustained auditory attention deficit, eight had deficits of auditory selective attention, 12 had visual selective attention deficits and seven subjects presented with visual inattention. Scores for visual inattention and visual selective attention improved over time (p = 0.006, p = 0.026 respectively) as did scores for balance control (p = 0.001). Auditory selective attention scores at the first assessment were found to correlate with measures of balance (p < 0.01), subjects with normal attention scores achieved better balance scores. Four subjects fell at least once during the six weeks. Scores for attention and balance of fallers were not found to be significantly different from the scores of nonfallers.


The sample size was small but high levels of attention deficit were identified. Findings suggest a weak or no relationship between attention deficits and falls. Further studies are required to explore the extent of attention deficits post stroke and its impact on balance control and falling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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