Cognitive and motor functioning in patients with multiple sclerosis: neuropsychological predictors of walking speed and falls

J Neurol Sci. 2012 May 15;316(1-2):42-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Feb 20.


While motor and cognitive impairments are common in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, research concerning their relationship in this population has been limited. We aimed to evaluate cross-sectional associations between cognitive functions, walking speed, and falls in patients with MS. Through a retrospective chart review of 81 patients with MS, we examined whether measures of cognitive function predicted walking speed on the Timed 25-Foot Walk and self-reported fall frequency. Hierarchical linear regressions showed that after controlling for age, gender, and disease severity, slower processing speed and IQ predicted slower gait speed, while poorer verbal memory predicted increased frequency of falls. Moreover, a binary logistic regression showed that poorer verbal memory also predicted increased risk of multiple falls. Thus, specific cognitive functions are meaningfully related to mobility limitations in patients with MS. These findings suggest that risk assessment for gait decline and falls should include cognitive assessment in patients with MS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Walking / psychology*