Researchers discovered that the previous 6-month fall history predicted fall risk in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who used wheelchairs and scooters for mobility, as published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. Those with a history of falling had double the risk for future falls, they said.
Previous studies on fall risk in the MS population concentrated on ambulatory patients, but not on those who used scooters or wheelchairs for mobility.
Researchers analyzed data obtained from a previous clinical trial conducted between June 2018 and April 2021 which investigated fall prevention in 48 patients with MS who were wheelchair or scooter bound. In this secondary study, the researchers used the previously obtained data to determine fall predictors after prospectively tracking falls during a 3-month period in this same patient population.
Outcome measures included self-reported number of falls in the previous 6 months, the Spinal Cord Injury-Falls Concern Scale, the California Verbal Learning Test-2, and the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life.
Most (91.7%) study participants reported at least 1 fall during the past 6 months and 54% experienced falls within the next 3-month tracking period with 27% resulting in injuries such as bruising, soreness, and 1 pelvic fracture. Eight (17%) patients experienced recurrent falls (≥2), while the remaining 40 (83%) patients were classified as nonrecurrent (<2) fallers.
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After analyzing 6 independent fall risk factors including age, gender, fear of falling, history of previous falls, cognitive/mental health, and quality of life, only history of previous falls increased the chances of future falls within the next 3 months by 2-fold (odds ratio=1.79; 95% CI, 1.15-2.78; P =.01). This model presented with a 77% sensitivity and 54% specificity for predicting future falls.
“This study confirms the significant of the problem of falls among full-time wheelchair or scooter users with MS,” the authors said.
“Our findings point to the value of asking full-time wheelchair and scooter users with MS how many falls they have had in the past 6 months in order to quickly identify those at increased fall risk who have the greater potential to benefit from further assessment and fall prevention intervention.”
Abou L, Sosnoff JJ, Peterson EW, Backus D, Willingham TB, Rice LA. Prediction of future falls among full-time wheelchair and scooter users with multiple sclerosis: a prospective study. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2022;64:103962. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2022.103962