A new international roadmap to address MS falls
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. In Manitoba for example, the age-adjusted prevalence has been estimated to be 226.7 per 100,000 (Marrie et al, 2010). In comparison, rates in Hong Kong have been reported to be 0.77 per 100,000 (Lau et al, 2002). Mobility and balance impairments are commonly experienced by people with MS, and place them at high risk of accidental falls. In fact, more than 50% of people with MS will experience a fall in a 6 month period and approximately ½ of those falls will require medical attention (Gunn et al, 2013). Fortunately, an international group of rehabilitation researchers is committed to finding ways to reduce the frequency, severity and consequences of accidental falls among people with MS.
With the support of a CIHR planning grant, the inaugural meeting of the International MS Falls Prevention Research Network was held last week here in Kingston. As the principal investigator of the Network, and host of the meeting, I am pleased to report that it was an amazing success. The primary aim of the meeting was to begin work on a protocol for a MS falls prevention intervention trial that could be replicated by each co-applicant on the research team in his/her own jurisdiction. The co-applicants include Dr. Michelle Cameron from Veteran’s Affairs Health Care in Portland, Oregon; Dr. Davide Cattaneo from the Don C. Gnocchi Foundation in Milan, Italy; Dr. Susan Coote from the University of Limerick, Ireland; Dr. Patricia Matsuda from the University of Washington at Seattle; Dr. Elizabeth Peterson from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Dr. Jacob Sosnoff from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In just over 2 days, we managed to come to consensus on major aspects of the protocol through a series of debates, short presentations, and small group discussions. The people participating in these interactions included our core team plus researchers working in related areas, local clinicians, and members of the Kingston community who have MS. Together, we decided on our primary outcomes, our inclusion and exclusion criteria, and the major components and sequencing of the intervention. We now have a clear task list for moving forward – and some of our tasks have already been achieved – we planned a series of papers to strengthen our interconnectivity; we developed a special issue proposal for a journal; and we set up an on-line community for discussions and document sharing. We have also planned a second, smaller meeting in conjunction with the Rehabilitation In Multiple Sclerosis (RIMS) conference in Brighton, UK in June.
When our group looks back, our Network may not have come to fruition had it not been for a small grant from the Principal’s Development Fund in 2012. Because of this award, I was able to bring Dr. Cattaneo to Queen’s in October of 2012. It was during his time here that he and I created the vision for our Network and this meeting. Hopefully, our success to date will continue, as our collective capacity will be greater than that of any of our individual research teams working alone. If you would like more information about the Network, please feel free to contact me.
Marcia Finlayson, PhD
Vice-Dean, Health Sciences
Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy
Gunn HJ, Newell P, Haas B, Marsden JF, Freeman JA. Identification of Risk Factors for Falls in Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Physical Therapy 2013 Apr; 93 (4): 504-513
Lau KK, Wong LK, Li LS, Chan YW, Li HL, Wong V. Epidemiological study of multiple sclerosis in Hong Kong Chinese: questionnaire survey. Hong Kong Med J. 2002 Apr;8(2):77-80.
Marrie RA, Yu N, Blanchard J, Leung S, Elliott L.The rising prevalence and changing age distribution of multiple sclerosis in Manitoba. Neurology. 2010 Feb 9;74(6):465-71. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181cf6ec0.