Using Neuromuscular Function as a Risk Factor for Falls in Multiple Sclerosis: Laurits Taul Madsen, PhD-C

The PhD student at Aarhus University provided insight on his study presented at 2022 ECTRIMS Congress on an innovative way using neuromuscular measures to discriminate those with MS at high risk for falls. [WATCH TIME: 2 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 2 minutes

"If you’re a person that’s about to fall, the important thing isn’t how strong you are, it’s how quickly you can produce enough force to counteract the balance perturbation that you’re experiencing."

Falls are highly prevalent in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and result in a range of negative consequences, such as injury, activity curtailment, reduced quality of life, and increased need for care and time off work. Previous studies have shown that lower extremity neuromuscular function, including maximal muscle force, Fmax and rate of force development (RFD) can discriminate fallers from non-fallers; however, to this point little had been observed in MS populations.

A new study presented at the 38th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), October 26-28, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, aimed to do just this, with a cohort of 53 patients classified as non-fallers, 1-time fallers (n = 8), or recurrent fallers (n = 21). Knee extensor neuromuscular function (Fmax; RFD within 50 ms (RFD50) and 200 ms (RFD200) relative to force onset) was assessed using isokinetic dynamometry. All told, the findings indicated that falls in patients with MS are linked to impaired neuromuscular function compared, and thus, neuromuscular function could potentially be used as a measure to help identify these at-risk patients.

At ECTRIMS 2022, lead investigator Laurits Taul Madsen, a PhD candidate at Aarhus University, provided background on the study, including the take-home messages clinicians should be weary of. Additionally, he stressed the relatively limited literature of neuromuscular function in MS, and the need to expand on research in the future.

Click here for more coverage of ECTRIMS 2022.

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