Prevalence of Falling and Injuries in Older Adults with a Physical Disability

TitlePrevalence of Falling and Injuries in Older Adults with a Physical Disability
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2012
AuthorsFinlayson M, Verrall A, Matsuda P N, Molton IR, Jensen MP
PublisherAmerican Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA

Introduction. Falling among older adults is a wide-spread problem that often has devastating consequences for the individual and family. However, knowledge about the scope and correlates of falls among people aging with multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD), post-polio (PPS) and spinal cord injury (SCI) is very limited. Research in this area is particularly important because these individuals often experience problems with mobility, balance, sensation, and muscle power that place them at significant risk for both falls and injurious falls. Methods. Cross-sectional data were used from a survey of individuals aging (45 yrs +) with MS, MD, PPS, and SCI (n = 1,862). The survey contained 6 questions about falling. Logistical regression models were built to examine whether factors such as age, sex, and mobility were associated with falling. Results. The prevalence of falls reported in the last 6 months was 73% MD, 56% MS, 55%, PPS, 42% SCI. The rate of injurious falls was 23% MD, 19% MD, 22% PPS, 20% SCI. The major factor associated with falling in older adults across all 4 disabilities was limitations in mobility . Sex was only significant in people with MS, with women being less likely to fall than men. Younger and middle age categories tended to have an increased odds of falling. Conclusion. Preventing falls in persons with disabilities is of paramount importance. A better understanding of the frequency, severity, and correlates of falls is an important first step towards designing effective fall prevention and management programs for these individuals.