Falls among full-time wheelchair users with spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis: a comparison of characteristics of fallers and circumstances of falls

Jong Hun Sung, Yarden Trace, Elizabeth W. Peterson, Jacob J. Sosnoff, Laura A. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to (1) explore and (2) compare circumstances of falls among full-time wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (SCI) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Methods: A mixed method approach was used to explore and compare the circumstances of falls of 41 full-time wheelchair users with SCI (n = 23) and MS (n = 18). In addition to collecting participants’ demographic information (age, gender, type of wheelchair used, duration of wheelchair use, and duration of disability), self-reported fall frequency in the past 6 months, self-reported restriction in activity due to fear of falling and the Spinal Cord Injury-Fall Concerns Scale (SCI-FCS) was collected. Qualitative data in the form of participants’ responses to an open-ended question yielding information regarding the circumstances of the most recent fall were also collected. To examine differences in survey outcomes and demographic characteristics between participants with SCI and MS, independent t-tests and Pearson’s Chi-square tests were used. Qualitative data were analyzed with a thematic analysis. Results: Statistical analysis revealed that individuals with MS (mean =3.3) had significantly higher average SCI-FCS than individuals with SCI (mean =2.4). The analysis of the participants’ descriptions of the circumstances of their most recent falls resulted in three main categories: action-related fall contributors (e.g., transfer), (2) location of falls (e.g., bathroom), and (3) fall attributions (e.g., surface condition). Conclusions: The results from this study helped to understand fall circumstances among full-time wheelchair users with MS and SCI. Findings from this study can inform the development of evidenced-based interventions to improve the effectiveness of clinically based treatment protocols.Implications for rehabilitation Falls are a common health concern in full-time wheelchair users living with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. The circumstances surrounding falls reported by full-time wheelchair users living with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries were found to be multifactorial. The complex nature of falls must be taken into consideration in the development of fall prevention programs. Findings from this study can inform the development of comprehensive evidence-based, population-specific interventions to manage falls among full-time wheelchair users living with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 13 2019

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Keywords

  • Falls
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Wheelchair users

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation

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