Objective: S: To study the change in disability over 10 years in individual patients constituting the 1991 Olmsted County, MN, multiple sclerosis (MS) prevalence cohort.
Methods: The authors reassessed this 1991 cohort in 2001. The authors determined the Expanded Disability Status Scale scores (EDSS) for each patient still alive, and within the year prior to death for those who died. The authors analyzed determinants of potential prognostic significance on change in disability.
Results: Follow-up information was available for 161 of 162 patients in the 1991 cohort. Only 15% had received immunomodulatory therapy. The mean change in EDSS for the entire cohort over 10 years was 1 point and 20% worsened by >or=2 points. For patients with EDSS <3 in 1991 (n = 66), 83% were ambulatory without a cane 10 years later. For patients with EDSS of 3 through 5 in 1991 (n = 33), 51% required a cane to ambulate (48%) or worse (3%). For patients with EDSS 6 to 7 in 1991 (n = 39), 51% required a wheelchair or worse in 2001. Gait impairment at onset, progressive disease, or longer duration of disease were associated with more worsening of disability (p < 0.002). The 10-year survival was decreased compared with the Minnesota white population for both men and women.
Conclusions: Although survival was reduced and 30% of patients progressed to needing a cane or wheelchair or worse over the 10-year follow-up period, most remained stable or minimally progressed. Patients within the EDSS 3.0 through 5.0 range are at moderate risk of developing important gait limitations over the 10-year period. The authors did not identify factors strongly predictive of worsening disability in this study.