Level of mobility limitations and falls status in persons with multiple sclerosis

Susan Coote, Marcia Finlayson, Jacob J. Sosnoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To investigate whether fall rates are constant across levels of mobility limitations. Design Secondary analysis of baseline assessments from a stratified randomized controlled trial. Setting Community. Participants Persons with multiple sclerosis (N=365) were divided into 5 groups based on the mobility section of the Guy's Neurological Disability Scale (GNDS): no walking impairment (n=82); impaired walking, no aid (n=87); unilateral support (n=76); bilateral support to walk (n=78); or occasional wheelchair user (n=42). Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures Self-reported fall history (ie, retrospective) in the preceding 3 months. Results One hundred twenty-four persons in the overall sample reported falling in the last 3 months (fall prevalence, 33.97%). Of the total sample, 17.8% reported 2 or more falls in the last 3 months. Chi-square analysis revealed a significant difference in the proportion of fallers across GNDS categories (χ2=42.64, P<.001). Post hoc analysis revealed that the group who walked with bilateral support had the greatest proportion of fallers (52.6%), while the group without walking impairment had the lowest proportion (15.9%). An examination of recurrent fallers as a function of group found that there were more recurrent fallers (70%) in the group that had a walking impairment but used no aid, relative to the other groups. Conclusions The current findings highlight that fall rates including recurrent fall prevalence are not uniform across mobility aid categories in persons with MS. Those using bilateral assistance for gait have the highest prevalence of fallers, and those with walking limitations and not yet using an aid had the greatest prevalence of multiple falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-866
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Accidental falls
  • Mobility limitation assistive devices
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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