Falls in multiple sclerosis: Incidence, reasons, and provider response.

TitleFalls in multiple sclerosis: Incidence, reasons, and provider response.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJohnson S
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Background: Some research has been done on the incidence and risk factors for falls in multiple sclerosis (MS), although little is known about fall-related activities. The objective of this study was to examine the incidence of falls in persons with MS as well as fall-related activities and perceived reasons for falling. The reasons given were then compared with the fall-prevention strategies given to patients by providers. Methods: A cross-sectional self-report survey was conducted of 449 community-dwelling persons with MS. The survey asked individuals to report on number of falls in the previous 6 months, fall-related activities, perceived reasons for falls, and provider response to falls. Results: A total of 259 (58%) participants reported one or more falls in the previous 6 months. The most common activities during which falls occurred were transfers (85%) and ambulation (62%). The most common reasons patients perceived they fell were having tripped or slipped (48%), being tired or fatigued (47%), not paying attention (29%), rushing or hurrying (24%), not using walking aids (21%), and feeling dizzy or lightheaded (20%). Only 50% of patients who fell discussed fall-prevention strategies with a health-care provider. The most common fall-prevention strategies recommended were safety strategies (eg, slow down, pay attention, avoid activity when fatigued) (53%), use of an assistive device (42%), exercise/gait and balance training (22%), and home safety modifications (17%). Conclusions: The most common activities in which falls occurred were transfers and ambulation. Falls were most often attributed to trips and slips, or being tired or fatigued. Many of the persons with MS who fell did not discuss the problem with a health-care provider. Fall-prevention strategies most often recommended were safety strategies and use of assistive devices. Providers should ask about falls and provide detailed advice to their patients.


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