Falls in People with Multiple Sclerosis; Causes, Attributions and Intervention Needs
It is known that more than 50% of people with MS experience a fall within a 6 month period. However there are currently only a few treatments to prevent or reduce falls for people with MS. In order to develop appropriate interventions, information on the causes, context and consequences of falls for people with MS is needed.
To determine the context of falls among people with MS, their level of concern about falling and their participation level in falls prevention intervention programmes.
This is a quantitative study using a face to face or telephone survey. The survey collects information on demographics and history of MS, concerns about falling, account of most recent fall and opinions on falls prevention programmes. Participants are community dwelling people with MS who are able to ambulate 10 metres and have experienced a fall in the past 3 months. Participants were recruited through the neurology clinic in a large tertiary hospital and through patient organisations and support groups.
Initial data analysis (N=79) shows that 41% of falls occurred inside the home and 46% were during a general mobility activity. Most participants were somewhat worried or very worried about falling but only 37% had reported a previous fall to a health care professional. Despite the high concern about falling and high occurrence rate only 8% of the group had participated in a previous falls prevention intervention.
Preliminary results from this study confirm previous research findings that show most falls for people with MS occur within the home and during some kind of mobility activity. Fear of falls tends to be high in this patient group and many of the participants surveyed are not using effective falls prevention strategies and have not received appropriate falls prevention interventions. Further analysis will also look at any links between memory/concentration (using the Blessed test) and self-reported balance impairment and incidence of falls.