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J Spinal Cord Med. 2007;30(3):243-50.

A pilot study of factors associated with falls in individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, PO Box 250965, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



To determine factors associated with falls among a sample of ambulatory individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI).


Cross-sectional mail survey.


A survey instrument of participant characteristics and fall-related variables was developed using relevant items from existing measures and was mailed to 221 individuals with incomplete SCI, who were identified from records of a large specialty hospital in the southeastern United States. Of the 221 prospective participants, 119 completed the questionnaire (54%). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to determine factors that were independently associated with having had a fall in the past year.


After adjusting for covariates, having fallen in the past year was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with greater numbers of medical conditions (odds ratio [OR] = 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0-1.7), having arthritis (OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.2-9.6), experiencing dizziness (OR = 5.6, 95% Cl = 1.1-27.7), greater numbers of days with poor physical health (OR = 1.1; 95% Cl = 1.0-1.3), and the restriction of community activities because of fear of falling (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1-2.1). The multivariable models also showed that the odds of having fallen were significantly lower among those with better current perceived physical health (OR = 0.5; 95% Cl = 0.3-0.9), those with better perceived health compared to a year ago (OR = 0.4; 95% Cl = 0.2-0.8), individuals who exercised more frequently (OR = 0.2; 95% CI = 0.1-0.7), and those who used a walker (OR = 0.3; 95% CI = 0.1-0.9).


Results suggest that interventions that address exercise frequency, walker use, and dizziness have promise for reducing falls for individuals with incomplete SCI.

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