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Lower Physical Activity in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis at Increased Fall Risk: A Cross-sectional Study

Sebastião, Emerson PhD; Learmonth, Yvonne C. PhD; Motl, Robert W. PhD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 2017 - Volume 96 - Issue 5 - p 357–361
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000581
Brief Report

Abstract: Persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) often report being afraid of falling, and this may have effects on physical activity (PA) engagement. This study investigated PA levels in persons with MS as a function of fall risk categories. Forty-seven persons with MS participated in the study and were categorized into either increased fall risk (IFR; n = 21; 55.5 ± 9.0 years) or normal fall risk (NFR; n = 26; 51.2 ± 12.9 years) groups based on scores from the Activities-Balance Confidence scale. PA was measured by accelerometer and expressed as average steps per day, and time spent in sedentary behavior, light PA, and moderate to vigorous physical activity over the course of 7 consecutive days. Univariate and covariate analyses were used to compare the differences in PA between fall risk groups. The average steps per day of the NFR group was significant higher compared with the IFR group (6024 ± 2533.1 vs. 2599 ± 1622.7 steps; P < 0.001), and the difference remained after controlling for disability level (5351 ± 2298.6 vs. 3432 ± 2363.6 steps; P = 0.016). There were no differences in light PA and moderate to vigorous physical activity between groups after controlling for disability level. Persons with MS at IFR accumulate fewer steps per day compared with those at NFR. This underscores the need for well-designed interventions targeting walking in this population who are far from the recommended 10,000 steps, particularly those with IFR.

From the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Robert W. Motl, PhD, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, 233 Freer Hall, Urbana, IL 61801.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

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