Natural History of Falls in an Incident Cohort of Parkinson’s Disease: Early Evolution, Risk and Protective Features
The natural history of falls in early Parkinson’s disease (PD) is poorly understood despite the profound effect of falls on outcome. The primary aim of this study was to describe the natural history of falls, and characterise fallers over 54 months in 99 newly diagnosed people with PD. Seventy-nine (79.7%) participants fell over 54 months and 20 (20.3%) remained falls-naïve. Twenty six (26.2%) reported retrospective falls at baseline. Gait outcomes, disease severity and self-efficacy significantly discriminated across groups. Subjective cognitive complaints emerged as the only significant cognitive predictor. Without exception, outcomes were better for non-fallers compared with fallers at any time point. Between group differences for 54 month fallers and non-fallers were influenced by the inclusi on of retrospective fallers and showed a broader range of discriminant characteristics, notably stance time variability and balance self-efficacy. Single fallers (n = 7) were significantly younger than recurrent fallers (n = 58) by almost 15 years (P = 0.013). Baseline performance in early PD discriminates fallers over 54 months, thereby identifying those at risk of falls. Clinical profiles for established and emergent fallers are to some extent distinct. These results reiterate the need for timely interventions to improve postural control and gait.