The relationship between specific cognitive domains, fear of falling, and falls in people with multiple sclerosis

Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:281760. doi: 10.1155/2014/281760. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


The primary aim was to examine the relationship between seven definite aspects of cognition measured by a computerized cognitive testing tool on the history falls in people with mild to moderate MS (PwMS). Secondary aims focused on whether cognition performance is correlated to fear of falling, walking velocity, and a patient-rated measure of walking ability. One hundred and one PwMS were included in the study analysis. Fifty-two had a history of at least one fall during the past year. Outcome measures included a computerized cognitive test battery designed to evaluate multiple cognitive domains, gait speed, and self-reported questionnaires; 12-item MS walking scale (MSWS-12); and Falls Efficacy Scale International. Significant differences between fallers and nonfallers were exhibited in attention and verbal function, scoring 7.5% (P = 0.013) and 6.2% (P = 0.05), respectively, below the parallel scores of the nonfallers. Attention was the only cognitive component significantly correlated with the MSWS-12 self-reported questionnaire. Fear of falling was significantly correlated with 6 (out of 7) definite cognitive variables. The present findings support the concept that when evaluating and attempting to reduce fall risk, emphasis should be placed not only on traditional fall risk factors like muscle strength and motor function, but also on cognitive function.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Strength
  • Postural Balance
  • Risk Factors
  • Walking / physiology