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Falls and Syncope Service

Falls and Syncope Service

The Falls and Syncope Service (FASS) based at the RVI is the largest unit of its kind in Europe.  With an international reputation for its research and clinical work our staff here have received several national awards for their innovative work in the field of falls and blackouts.

Founded in 1991, the FASS investigates, diagnoses and helps manage syncope (blackouts / loss of consciousness) and falls, particularly, but not exclusively, in older patients.

Patients are referred to us by local GPs and consultants from within the Trust or from other hospitals throughout the country. In 2006 we established the first Rapid Access facility in the UK to allow direct referrals from the North East Ambulance Service, as well as from Accident and Emergency and wards within our Trust.

Our patients present with a range of problems such as: balance disorders; dizziness; low blood pressure; gait and balance problems; or unspecified lack of co-ordination and falls. New patients undergo a series of investigations to establish the cause of their condition and we assess, identify and treat risk factors for falls, blackouts, dizziness and osteoporosis.

We continually monitor our standards of care and foster innovation through ongoing education and training for all our staff.


Specialist investigations to help us get to the bottom of your problem

Our patients present with a wide range of problems including:

  • balance disorders
  • dizziness
  • low blood pressure
  • gait and balance problems or
  • unspecified lack of co-ordination and falls.

All new patients we see undergo a series of highly specialist investigations to help us find out the cause of their condition and we can also assess, identify and treat risk factors for falls, blackouts, dizziness and osteoporosis. Once we know the root of the problem, you can start the right treatment or receive advice to help resolve the problem.

We continually monitor our standards of care and foster innovation through ongoing education and training for all our staff. 

Falls and Syncope Service Physiotherapist

If you are attending the Falls and Syncope Service and it is felt appropriate for your care you will be referred to the Falls and Syncope Service Physiotherapist.

The majority of people referred to the Falls and Syncope Physiotherapist will be experiencing balance problems, unsteadiness, or dizziness.

On your initial appointment the Physiotherapist will ask you about your falls, unsteadiness and dizziness. She will look at the movement in your joints, muscle strength, balance and walking. This initial assessment will take approximately 45 minutes. From this the Physiotherapist will identify whether her assistance is the most appropriate, and if so, areas in your health that require assistance; these can include strength and balance exercises, coping strategies in the event of any future falls, any requirements you may need at home, walking aids, and mutual goal setting. If necessary the Physiotherapist will also refer you to our Occupational Therapist for a home assessment to identify any assistance that can be given.

A “plan of action” will be agreed between yourself and the Falls and Syncope Service Physiotherapist and a further appointment will be given at your convenience.

Your physiotherapy appointment will go at your pace however it is usual to be seen in clinic approximately every 4 – 6 weeks. The Physiotherapist is also happy to answer any questions you may have.

Things you need to know

  • The Falls and Syncope Service is a day unit that is open from 9am – 5pm.
  •  Morning Clinic starts at 9am until 12.30pm
  • Afternoon Clinic starts at 1.30pm until 5pm
  • If you have difficulty getting to the unit an Ambulance can be arranged to collect you from home and return you after your appointment.
  • All new patients will have an ECG, an active stand test, and a blood test. The tests are done by the nursing staff in the unit.
  • The doctor will take a full medical history and a thorough physical examination in accordance with our care pathway.

More information

For more information about the Falls and Syncopie Service, please contact:

  • Sister Pam Reeve
  • tel: 0191 282 5237
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