Objective: To examine incidence, associated factors, and health care provider (HCP) response to falls in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Design: Cross-sectional retrospective design.
Setting: Community setting.
Participants: Four hundred seventy-four persons with MS.
Methods: Mailed survey questionnaire examined incidence, risk factors, and HCP response to falls in persons with MS who were dwelling in the community. Univariate and multiple ordinal regression analysis identified variables associated with single and multiple falls.
Main outcome measurements: Falls, causes and perceived reasons for falls, and HCP response.
Results: A total of 265 participants (58.2%) reported one or more falls in the previous 6 months, and 58.5% of falls were medically injurious. Trips/slips while walking accounted for 48% of falls. Factors associated with falls included use of a cane or walker (odds ratio [OR] 2.62; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.66-4.14), income <$25,000 (OR 1.85; 95% CI 1.13-3.04), balance problems (OR 1.28; 95% CI 1.11-1.49), and leg weakness (OR 1.26; 95% CI 1.09-1.46). Fifty-one percent of those who fell (135/265) reported speaking to an HCP about their falls; recommended strategies included safety strategies (53.2%), use of gait assistive devices (42.1%), exercise/balance training (22.2%), and home modifications (16.6%).
Conclusions: Factors associated with falls in persons with MS are similar to those in other populations with neurologic diseases. Despite the high incidence of falls, fewer than 50% of people with MS receive information about prevention of falls from an HCP.
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.