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Falls are Common and a Matter of Concern in Small Study of People with MS who Use Wheelchairs/Scooters

September 20, 2017

SUMMARY
  • In a study of 44 people with MS who use wheelchairs or scooters, 75% reported falling at least once in any given 6-month period, and 66% reported curtailing activities because of concerns about falling.
  • Now, with a research grant from the National MS Society, these researchers are developing a comprehensive therapeutic program designed to educate people with MS who use wheelchairs about how to prevent and recover (get up) from falls.
  • The team (Drs. Laura Rice, Jacob Sosnoff, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues) report their findings in Medicine (2017 Sep;96(35):e7860).
 
DETAILS
Background: Research suggests that about half of people with MS fall at least once during any given 6-month period. Falls can cause injuries, and fear of falling can prevent people from participating in social activities. Although some research has been done on ways to prevent falls in people with MS who can walk, little is known about preventing falls in people with MS who use wheelchairs or scooters. 
 
This Study: Investigators recruited 44 people with MS who used a wheelchair or scooter as their primary means of mobility from centers in the United States and Israel. Participants completed a survey that included questions about the frequency of falls, frequency of injuries caused by falls, the circumstances of the falls, and how quality of life was affected by falls.
 
Results: Of this group, 75% (33) reported falling at least once in 6 months and 48% (12) of those who fell experienced an injury. Most of the falls happened inside the person’s home. Many participants (75%) reported concerns about falling and 66% (29) limited their activities because of these concerns.
 
The team (Drs. Laura Rice, Jacob Sosnoff, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues) report their findings in Medicine (2017 Sep;96(35):e7860).
 
Next Steps: Now, with a new research grant from the National MS Society, Dr. Rice and her collaborators are developing a comprehensive therapeutic program designed to educate people with MS who use wheelchairs about how to prevent and recover (get up) from falls. Such a program could be implemented widely to improve quality of life and reduce injuries.
 
Read More:
Read more about preventing falls in MS

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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