Neuropsychological, balance, and mobility risk factors for falls in people with multiple sclerosis: A prospective cohort study

Phu D. Hoang, Michelle H. Cameron, Simon C. Gandevia, Stephen R. Lord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine whether impaired performance in a range of vision, proprioception, neuropsychological, balance, and mobility tests and pain and fatigue are associated with falls in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Design Prospective cohort study with 6-month follow-up. Setting A multiple sclerosis (MS) physiotherapy clinic. Participants Community-dwelling people (N=210; age range, 21-74y) with MS (Disease Steps 0-5). Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures Incidence of falls during 6 months' follow-up. Results In the 6-month follow-up period, 83 participants (39.7%) experienced no falls, 57 (27.3%) fell once or twice, and 69 (33.0%) fell 3 or more times. Frequent falling (≥3) was associated with increased postural sway (eyes open and closed), poor leaning balance (as assessed with the coordinated stability task), slow choice stepping reaction time, reduced walking speed, reduced executive functioning (as assessed with the difference between Trail Making Test Part B and Trail Making Test Part A), reduced fine motor control (performance on the 9-Hole Peg Test [9-HPT]), and reported leg pain. Increased sway with the eyes closed, poor coordinated stability, and reduced performance in the 9-HPT were identified as variables that significantly and independently discriminated between frequent fallers and nonfrequent fallers (model χ2 3=30.1, P<.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for this model was.712 (95% confidence interval,.638-.785). Conclusions The study reveals important balance, coordination, and cognitive determinants of falls in PwMS. These should assist the development of effective strategies for prevention of falls in this high-risk group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-486
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Accidental falls
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Postural balance
  • Rehabilitation
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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