Background: Falls are common in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Previous studies have generally included small samples and had varied methods.
Objectives: The objectives of this paper are to compile fall rates across a broad range of ages and disease severity and to definitively assess the extent to which MS-associated and demographic factors influence fall rates.
Methods: Individual data from studies in four countries that prospectively measured falls for three months were analyzed. We determined fall rates, prevalence of fallers (≥1 falls) and frequent fallers (≥2 falls), location and timing of falls, and fall-related demographic factors.
Results: A total of 537 participants reported 1721 falls: 56% were fallers and 37% frequent fallers. Most falls occurred indoors (65%) between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (75%). Primary progressive MS was associated with significantly increased odds of being a faller (odds ratio (OR) 2.02; CI 1.08-3.78). Fall risk peaked at EDSS levels of 4.0 and 6.0 with significant ORs between 5.30 (2.23-12.64) and 5.10 (2.08-12.47). The fall rate was lower in women than men (relative risk (RR) 0.80; CI 0.67-0.94) and decreased with increasing age (RR 0.97 for each year, CI 0.95-0.98).
Conclusion: PwMS are at high risk of falls and there are important associations between falls and MS-associated disability, gender and age.
Keywords: Accidental falls; cohort studies; meta-analysis; multiple sclerosis; risk factors.
© The Author(s), 2015.