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Keywords:

  • arthropathy;
  • balance;
  • fall prevention;
  • fall risk;
  • fear of falling;
  • haemophilia

Summary

Many risk factors for falls identified in the general population are found in patients with haemophilia. Furthermore, fall risk increases with age and patients with haemophilia are increasingly entering the over 65 age group. After a fall occurs, there are often behavioural changes that have significant health consequences and further increase fall risk. Fall risk can be quickly assessed in the clinical setting with specific questions in the medical history and by a variety of performance-based screening tools. Identification of fall risk enables early intervention, thereby preventing injury and fear of physical activity, both of which have been associated with falling and may carry an increased risk in patients with haemophilia. Review of the existing literature on assessment of fall risk reveals the importance of screening in the clinical setting, which is commonly done via a fall history and performance-based assessment tools. Selecting appropriate fall risk screening tools is an important step in identifying and providing optimal interventions for those at risk. Assessments of fall history, fear of falling, gait velocity, gait variability and vestibular dysfunction are suggested as screening tools for patients with haemophilia. Additional research is needed to determine the optimal screening, evaluation and treatment techniques for these patients. The longitudinal physical therapy care provided by Haemophilia Treatment Centres presents a unique opportunity for instituting measures that will reduce the incidence of falling in patients with haemophilia.