OBJECTIVE: To compare the risk of falls and fall predictors in patients with Parkinson disease (PD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and stroke using the same study design.
DESIGN: Multicenter prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Institutions for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients (N=299) with PD (n=94), MS (n=111), and stroke (n=94) seen for rehabilitation.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Functional scales were applied to investigate balance, disability, daily performance, self-confidence with balance, and social integration. Patients were followed for 6 months. Telephone interviews were organized at 2, 4, and 6 months to record falls and fall-related injuries. Incidence ratios, Kaplan-Meier survival curves, and Cox proportional hazards models were used.
RESULTS: Of the 299 patients enrolled, 259 had complete follow-up. One hundred and twenty-two patients (47.1%) fell at least once; 82 (31.7%) were recurrent fallers and 44 (17.0%) suffered injuries; and 16%, 32%, and 40% fell at 2, 4, and 6 months. Risk of falls was associated with disease type (PD, MS, and stroke in decreasing order) and confidence with balance (Activities-specific Balance Confidence [ABC] scale). Recurrent fallers were 7%, 15%, and 24% at 2, 4, and 6 months. The risk of recurrent falls was associated with disease type, high educational level, and ABC score. Injured fallers were 3%, 8%, and 12% at 2, 4, and 6 months. The only predictor of falls with injuries was disease type (PD).
CONCLUSIONS: PD, MS, and stroke carry a high risk of falls. Other predictors include perceived balance confidence and high educational level.