Falls in patients with vestibular deficits

S. J. Herdman, P. Blatt, M. C. Schubert, R. J. Tusa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine to what extent patients with vestibular hypofunction experience falls. Study Design: Prospective clinical study. Setting: Outpatient tertiary care facility in a university. Patients: Patients with unilateral (n = 70) and bilateral (n = 45) vestibular hypofunction, confirmed on vestibular function testing, aged 24 to 89 years. Intervention: None. Main Outcome Measure: Incidence of falls. Results: There was a significant difference in the incidence of falls reported since the onset of the vestibular deficit by patients with unilateral (UVL) and bilateral (BVL) vestibular hypofunction. The incidence of falls for BVL was significantly greater than that for UVL. The incidence of falls for UVL was not different from that expected in a community-based population when age was considered. The incidence of falls for BVL was significantly greater than that reported for the general population aged 65 through 74 years (51.1% for BVL, 25% for community-dwelling individuals) but was significantly less than expected for persons aged ≥75 years (18.2% for BVL, 49% for community-dwelling individuals). The lower incidence of falls in patients with BVL aged ≥75 years may be related to the use of assistive devices and to a decrease in risky behavior. All patients with serious injury were from the UVL group, and all were >65 years old. The incidence of fall-related injuries requiring medical attention among patients with UVL was similar to that in community-dwelling individuals. Conclusions: Falls are an important consequence of bilateral vestibular hypofunction, and patients should be counseled about the increased risk of falling. Assistive devices should be considered, especially for persons aged >65 years with BVL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-851
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Otology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 15 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Falls
  • Injury
  • Vestibular deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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