OBJECTIVE: To determine factors associated with future falls and/or near falls in people with mild PD.
METHODS: The study included 141 participants with PD. Mean (SD) age and PD-duration were 68 (9.7) and 4 years (3.9), respectively. Their median (q1-q3) UPDRS III score was 13 (8-18). Those >80 years of age, requiring support in standing or unable to understand instructions were excluded. Self-administered questionnaires targeted freezing of gait, turning hesitations, walking difficulties in daily life, fatigue, fear of falling, independence in activities of daily living, dyskinesia, demographics, falls/near falls history, balance problems while dual tasking and pain. Clinical assessments addressed functional balance performance, retropulsion, comfortable gait speed, motor symptoms and cognition. All falls and near falls were subsequently registered in a diary during a six-month period. Risk factors for prospective falls and/or near falls were determined using logistic regression.
RESULTS: Sixty-three participants (45%) experienced ≥1 fall and/or near fall. Three factors were independent predictors of falls and/or near falls: fear of falling (OR = 1.032, p<0.001) history of near falls (OR = 3.475, p = 0.009) and retropulsion (OR = 2.813, p = 0.035). The strongest contributing factor was fear of falling, followed by a history of near falls and retropulsion.
CONCLUSIONS: Fear of falling seems to be an important issue to address already in mild PD as well as asking about prior near falls.
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