Falls in people with MS - An individual data meta-analysis from studies from Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States

Y. Nilsagard, H. Gunn, J. Freeman, P. Hoang, S. Lord, Rajarshi Mazumder, Michelle Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-100
Number of pages9
JournalMultiple Sclerosis Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2015



  • Accidental falls
  • cohort studies
  • meta-analysis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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