Content » Vol 49, Issue 8

Original report

Experiences of falls and strategies to manage the consequences of falls in persons with late effects of polio: A qualitative study

Christina Brogårdh, Jan Lexell, Catharina Sjödahl Hammarlund
Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, 221 00 Lund, Sweden. E-mail: christina.brogardh@med.lu.se
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2262

Abstract

Objective: To explore how persons with late effects of polio experience falls and what strategies they use to manage the consequences of falls.
Design: A qualitative study with face-to-face interviews. Data were analysed by systematic text condensation.
Participants: Fourteen ambulatory persons (7 women; mean age 70 years) with late effects of polio.
Results: Analysis resulted in one main theme, “Everyday life is a challenge to avoid the consequences of falls”, and 3 categories with 7 subcategories. Participants perceived that falls were unpredictable and could occur anywhere. Even slightly uneven surfaces could cause a fall, and increased impairments following late effects of polio led to reduced movement control and an inability to adjust balance quickly. Physical injuries were described after the falls, as well as emotional and psychological reactions, such as embarrassment, frustration and fear of falling. Assistive devices, careful planning and strategic thinking were strategies to prevent falls, together with adaptation and social comparisons to mitigate the emotional reactions.
Conclusion: Experiences of falls greatly affect persons with late effects of polio in daily life. To reduce falls and fall-related consequences both problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies are used. In order to increase daily functioning, these findings should be included in a multifaceted falls management programme.

Lay Abstract

Falls are very common in persons with late effects of polio (LEoP). Despite this, no study has explored how these persons experience falls and what strategies they use to manage the consequences in daily life. In this study, 14 persons with LEoP were interviewed and they described that falls could occur anywhere. Even slightly uneven surfaces could cause a fall and the increased impairments following LEoP led to an inability to quickly adjust balance. Physical injuries and emotional and psychological reactions were described after the falls. To prevent falls, assistive devices, careful planning and strategic thinking were used. These findings need to be included in a multifaceted falls management program to increase daily functioning in persons with LEoP.

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