Fall Risk Factors in Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, gait disturbance, and postural instability. Patients with PD suffer frequent falls, yet little research has been done to identify risks specific to PD patients. The objective of this study was to identify the risk factors associated with falls for PD patients through the collection of demographic, environmental, and medical information as well as fall diaries completed during a 3-month period. Patients with a diagnosis of idiopathic PD, with and without falls, were included in the study provided they could stand and walk and had no other condition that could predispose them to falls. Of the 118 participants, 59% reported one or more falls. A total of 237 falls were reported. Duration and severity of PD symptoms, particularly freezing, involuntary movements, and walking and postural difficulties, were significantly associated with an increased risk of falls. Other factors associated with falls were postural hypotension and daily intake of alcohol. Forty percent of falls resulted in injury, but serious injury was rare. The findings have implications for reducing the risk of falls through patient education.

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