Upwards of one out of two individuals with multiple sclerosis report falling in the last six months. A significant portion of those who fall suffer injuries and many people with multiple sclerosis who fall develop a fear of falling, resulting in a further activity limitations, reductions in mobility, physical fitness, and increased risk of falling. Our research team led by Professor Sosnoff has begun to examine predictors, consequences and prevention of falls in older adults with MS.
Recently they completed a randomized control trial designed to determine the feasibility, safety and efficacy of a home-based exercise intervention targeting fall risk in older adults with MS. Participants were randomly placed in either a home-based exercise intervention group (n=13) or a wait list control group (n=14). The exercise group completed exercises targeting lower muscle strength and balance three times a week for 12 weeks. The control group continued normal activity. Participants completed fall risk ,balance and walking testing prior to and immediately following the 12-week intervention.Twelve participants from the control group and ten from the exercise group completed the study. No injuries related to the exercise program were reported. Overall, fall risk was found to decrease in the exercise group following the intervention while there was an increase in fall risk in the control group. Overall, the investigation revealed that home-based exercise is feasible, safe and effective for reducing physiological fall risk in older adults with MS.
The research team is currently engaged in a new investigation funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society examining whether exercise training combined with an education component has an beneficial effect on fall incidence in older adults with MS.