Background and purpose: Although Parkinson disease (PD) patients suffer falls more frequently than other old people, only a few studies have focused on identifying the specific risk factors for falls in PD patients. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence and risk factors of falls in a prospective study in comparison to a control group.
Material and methods: One hundred patients with PD were recruited to the study along with 55 gender- and age-matched healthy controls. Both groups were examined twice; the second examination took place one year after the first one. Examination of the PD group included: medical history including falls, neurological examination, assessment of the severity of parkinsonism [Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), Schwab and England scale (S and E), Hoehn and Yahr scale (H and Y), Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)], Hamilton scale and quality of life scales (SF-36, EQ-5D) and Freezing of Gait Questionnaire (FOG-Q). In both groups falls were recorded over the 12 months. Frequent fallers are defined as having more than 3 falls a year.
Results: Over the year falls occurred in 54% of PD patients and 18% of controls. In a prospective study 28% of PD patients fell more frequently than in retrospective analysis. Frequent fallers were found in 20% of patients and in 7% of controls. Fallers showed higher scores in UPDRS, H and Y, S and E, MMSE, and Hamilton scale than non-fallers. Independent risk factors for falls were: age, previously reported falls and higher score in the FOG-Q.
Conclusions: Falls in PD patients occurred three times more frequently than in controls. Independent risk factors for falls were: high score in FOG-Q, older age and presence of falls in medical history.