falls

Fall Down, Can’t Get Up Again

So I’m at my multiple sclerosis (MS) exercise class working out on a sit-down bike. Yes, I know, by their very nature bikes tend to be of the sit-down variety, but for us lot in wheelchairs, these bikes are designed so we can roll up to them and have…

Does 2 + 2 = 4, 5, or 0?

Am I about to share my first conspiracy theory, even if it’s just about me? Why not? It’s all the rage, though this one may have a loose connection to a possible truth. Stick with the story, please. It requires some scene-setting. It was years ago, at the end of…

Owlytics’ MS Smartwatch Goes Through First Validation Stage

Owlytics Healthcare, in partnership with Tel-Aviv Medical Center in Israel, has taken its smartwatch — designed to monitor symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) from afar — through a first stage of validation. The smartwatch, worn on the wrist, collects a continuous stream of personal health data that are sent to…

MS Presents ‘Horror Weekends’

I have always liked the odd horror movie, the odder the better. I was a bit of a fan of the trash Troma Studio mob, where their tongue was so firmly in their cheek it usually stuck right through it. For you youngsters out there, think the “Sharknado”…

Was It Vertigo That Sent Me Tumbling the Other Day?

In the four decades I’ve lived with MS, I’d never before experienced a serious case of vertigo. I’ve occasionally felt a little spacey. In fact, mild dizziness while traveling home from a business convention is one of the things that led to my MS diagnosis in 1980. But vertigo is…

This Fall Was a Real Eye-opener

Well, this was a first. I’d fallen backward once in my power wheelchair. That was in the back of our mobility van. Hubris told me I could get away with just holding on to the handgrip for a few hundred meters. As ever, hubris was wrong! About six months…

This Story Has Legs — One Leg, At Least!

This is the story of how I became a patient columnist. Three years ago, I was still walking. Shambling, anyway. I could get up and down stairs but had to rest before reaching my ordinary car with fitted hand controls. To go somewhere on my own, I needed someone to…

I’m Keeping Aware of Fall Risks with MS

“Oh no, not again.” My mind races and time slows as I crumble to the floor. Every downward movement is magnified, and so too is the pain of my twisted left foot and leg. They have become the resting place for my slumping body. My fuzzy and confused mind…

The Weekend

The weekend should have started on Friday. My sister-in-law is over from France and there was the first gathering of the clan in a local hostelry. I took the sensible option of staying in as there was an even bigger do at our place on Saturday night. My…

Falls Common Among Wheelchair, Scooter Users in People with MS, Study Reports

The majority of people living with multiple sclerosis who use wheelchairs or scooters for mobility reported falling at least once over a six-month period, according to a new study. While most studies have focused on ambulatory MS patients, this may be the first study to assess the prevalence and circumstances of falls among those who already experience significant mobility issues and require the use of wheelchairs or scooters to get around. In ambulatory MS patients who are able to move around on their own, about 50 percent reported falling during a six-month period. The current study recruited 44 MS patients from May 2014 to July 2015 who required wheelchairs or scooters to move about. These patients were from medical centers across the United States and Asia. They were asked to complete a survey focusing on the prevalence of falls, the frequency of injuries, the circumstances surrounding the falls, and quality-of-life indicators. Thirty-three of the 44 participants (75 percent) reported falling at least once in the previous six months. This number is higher than any of the other studies that assessed the prevalence of falls in MS patients. Many of these people experienced more than one fall within those six months. Of these falls, 87.5 percent occurred inside the home. The top four activities reported by participants that led to these falls included using the toilet, transferring, walking short distances, and reaching for an object. Some of the people said the falls were serious, and 8 percent of participants reported an injury because of their fall. Perhaps for this reason, many reported concerns about falling (76.7 percent). And, more telling, 65.9 percent of these MS patients reported altering their activities because they feared falling. The use of mobility devices may affect the prevalence of falls. Participants were asked if they had fallen using a specific mobility device. Here is how they responded: 66.7% reported falling while using power wheelchairs; 37.5% fell while using manual wheelchairs; 66.7% fell when using scooters; 71.4% reported falling while using a walker; 100% fell while using a cane. Because of the high prevalence of falls while using a mobility device, researchers said, clinicians should provide better education regarding the use and function of these mobility devices. There were no significant correlations between people who experienced falls and quality-of-life indicators in this study. Results from the study highlight the need for interventions specifically targeted for MS patients who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters. The body of research regarding predictors of falls suggest that some of the risk factors can be modified; therefore, more effort should be made to prevent falls using targeted rehabilitation interventions.

National MS Society Among Groups Promoting Sept. 22 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Today is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, an annual campaign that occurs every Sept. 22 to encourage multiple sclerosis patients and others prone to falls to give a little extra thought on how to identify factors for falls. The event, coordinated by the National Council on Aging, will be the 10th in an annual series that has taken place since 2007. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is contributing to the event by presenting research into MS-related falls, as well as resources to identify risk factors of falling. Research shows that 50 to 70 percent of MS patients report falling at least once over a six-month period, with about 30 percent falling several times. Many people with MS also get injured when they fall, adding significantly to the burden of MS. Studies show that typical MS symptoms, such as poor gait and balance, or the loss of proprioception — the perception of where body parts are in a space — contribute to falls in MS, which typically occur while doing everyday activities at home. To better understand why people with MS fall, and how to best prevent it, current research focuses on better detection of falls. One approach is to use automatic fall detection devices, which patients can wear. A 2015 symposium on gait and balance in MS focused specifically on falls. The meeting concluded that although knowledge and prevention strategies have improved, much remains to be done. In that regard, the International MS Fall Prevention Research Network helps researchers collaborate on falls research. But neurological symptoms are not the only factors at play. Psychological issues make up another area in the risk spectrum, says the NMSS. Fear of falling or overconfidence both contribute, as does inactivity. Besides the guide, the NMSS has also developed the Free From Falls program, containing eight modules with webinars, downloadable educational material and video-guided exercises. These materials teach patients about biological, behavioral and environmental risk factors for falling, while also offering tips and strategies that may reduce the risk of falls.