Fall Prevention Training for Service Members with an Amputation or Limb Salvage Following Lower Extremity Trauma

Kenton R. Kaufman, Emily J. Miller, Christine M. Deml, Riley C. Sheehan, Mark D. Grabiner, Marilynn Wyatt, Claire Z. Zai, Trevor Kingsbury, Meghan L. Tullos, Julian C. Acasio, Caitlin E. Mahon, Brad D. Hendershot, Christopher L. Dearth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Recent military conflicts have resulted in a significant number of lower extremity injuries to U.S. service members that result in amputation or limb preservation (LP) procedures. Service members receiving these procedures report a high prevalence and deleterious consequences of falls. Very little research exists to improve balance and reduce falls, especially among young active populations such as service members with LP or limb loss. To address this research gap, we evaluated the success of a fall prevention training program for service members with lower extremity trauma by (1) measuring fall rates, (2) quantifying improvements in trunk control, and (3) determining skill retention at 3 and 6 months after training. Materials and Methods: Forty-five participants (40 males, mean [±SD] age, 34 ± 8 years) with lower extremity trauma (20 with unilateral transtibial amputation, 6 with unilateral transfemoral amputation, 5 with bilateral transtibial amputation, and 14 with unilateral LP procedures) were enrolled. A microprocessor-controlled treadmill was used to produce task-specific postural perturbations which simulated a trip. The training was conducted over a 2-week period and consisted of six 30-minute sessions. The task difficulty was increased as the participant's ability progressed. The effectiveness of the training program was assessed by collecting data before training (baseline; repeated twice), immediately after training (0 month), and at 3 and 6 months post-training. Training effectiveness was quantified by participant-reported falls in the free-living environment before and after training. Perturbation-induced recovery step trunk flexion angle and velocity was also collected. Results: Participants reported reduced falls and improved balance confidence in the free-living environment following the training. Repeated testing before training revealed that there were no pre-training differences in trunk control. The training program improved trunk control following training, and these skills were retained at 3 and 6 months after training. Conclusion: This study showed that task-specific fall prevention training reduced falls across a cohort of service members with diverse types of amputations and LP procedures following lower extremity trauma. Importantly, the clinical outcome of this effort (i.e., reduced falls and improved balance confidence) can lead to increased participation in occupational, recreational, and social activities and thus improved quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)980-987
Number of pages8
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1 May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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