Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 316–323 | Cite as

Why Do Individuals with Cirrhosis Fall? A Mechanistic Model for Fall Assessment, Treatment, and Research

  • Susan L. MurphyEmail author
  • Elliot B. TapperEmail author
  • Jennifer Blackwood
  • James K. Richardson


Falls are prevalent for people with cirrhosis and commonly lead to loss of independence, reduced quality of life, and mortality. Despite a critical need for fall prevention in this population, cirrhosis-specific fall-related mechanisms are not well understood. We posit that most falls in this patient population are due to a coalescence of discrete subclinical impairments that are not typically detected at the point of care. The combined effect of these subtle age- and disease-related neurocognitive and muscular impairments leads to the inability to respond successfully to a postural perturbation within the available 300 to 400 ms. This article provides a conceptual model of physiological resilience to avoid a fall that focuses on attributes that underlie the ability to withstand a postural perturbation and their clinical evaluation. Evidence supporting this model in cirrhosis and other high fall risk conditions will be synthesized and suggestions for fall assessment and treatment will be discussed.


Falls Balance Postural control Reaction time Cirrhosis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical CenterVeterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health Care SystemAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal Medicine, Division of GasteroenterologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Health Care SystemAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of Michigan – Flint CampusFlintUSA
  6. 6.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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