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Functional assessment -- Gait, Geriatric Assessment - methods, Geriatrics -- Health care


This study investigates the potential of passive monitoring of gait and turning in daily life in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) to identify those at future risk of falls. Seven days of passive monitoring of gait and turning were carried out in a pilot study of 26 PwMS in home settings using wearable inertial sensors. The retrospective fall history was collected at the baseline. After gait and turning data collection in daily life, PwMS were followed biweekly for a year and were classified as fallers if they experienced >1 fall. The ability of short-term passive monitoring of gait and turning, as well as retrospective fall history to predict future falls were compared using receiver operator curves and regression analysis. The history of retrospective falls was not identified as a significant predictor of future falls in this cohort (AUC = 0.62, p = 0.32). Among quantitative monitoring measures of gait and turning, the pitch at toe-off was the best predictor of falls (AUC = 0.86, p < 0.01). Fallers had a smaller pitch of their feet at toe-off, reflecting less plantarflexion during the push-off phase of walking, which can impact forward propulsion and swing initiation and can result in poor foot clearance and an increased metabolic cost of walking. In conclusion, our cohort of PwMS showed that objective monitoring of gait and turning in daily life can identify those at future risk of falls, and the pitch at toe-off was the single most influential predictor of future falls. Therefore, interventions aimed at improving the strength of plantarflexion muscles, range of motion, and increased proprioceptive input may benefit PwMS at future fall risk.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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