Methods: 58 PwMS and 58 healthy controls, who are community-dwelling, were recruited in this 6-month prospective cohort study. 90% of PwMS and 84% of healthy controls completed the study. Participants counted falls prospectively using fall calendars and noted fall location, fall-related injuries, and the cause of the falls. Kaplan Meier survival analysis and logrank tests were performed to compare the distributions of survival without falling between PwMS and healthy controls.
Objective: To compare the risk, circumstances, consequences and causes of prospectively recorded falls between people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) and healthy controls of similar age and gender.
Results:40.8% of controls and 71.2% of PwMS fell at least once. 48.1% of PwMS and 18.4% of healthy controls fell at least twice. 42.3% of PwMS and 20.4% of health controls sustained a fall-related injury. After adjusting for age and gender, the time to first fall (HR: 1.87, p = 0.033) and the time to recurrent falls (HR: 2.87, p = 0.0082) were significantly different between PwMS and healthy controls. PwMS reported an almost equal number of falls inside and outside, 86% of the falls in healthy controls were outside. Healthy controls were more likely to fall due to slipping on a slippery surface (39.5% vs 10.4%). PwMS more often attributed falls to distraction (31% vs 7%) and uniquely attributed falls to fatigue or heat.
Conclusions: Fall risk, circumstances, consequences, and causes are different for PwMS than for healthy people of the same age and gender. PwMS fall more, are more likely to be injured by a fall, and often fall indoors. PwMS, but not healthy controls, frequently fall because they are distracted, fatigued or hot.
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