Common Sense from Experience vs Research Studies
Do you ever stop to wonder about the research headlines we read about MS studies? Yes, there is plenty of significant research taking place and I admit that many of those studies are beyond my comprehension. They might look at drugs and compounds and biological factors that I don’t comprehend – but to understand my perspective it might help to know I took geology as my science course requirements and not biology or chemistry. I like the studies that talk about the impact of MS on our lives in our relationships and day-to-day living – ideas that fit more with my education in the Liberal Arts.
There has been a string of research study headlines recently that have me pausing to read the study and then say- huh? I have to wonder how long it took and how much money and other resources were spent to report on some of these outcomes. There has been a recent theme in these study headlines about our movement – or non-movement as the case might be.
Here is a sampling of some of the study titles, their conclusion, and my observations:-
Balance exercise program reduced falls in people with multiple sclerosis - a single group pretest posttest trial.1
Researcher’s Conclusion: “The program reduced falls and proportion of fallers and improved balance performance in people with mild-to-moderate MS, but did not significantly alter perceived limitations in walking and balance confidence.”
My take on this from my experience: If we have better balance we will fall less but we will still worry about falling because we have done it before.
Falls in people with MS-an individual data meta-analysis from studies from Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.2 takes a look at a number of studies about falls and concluded - now hold on for these astonishing results…
Researcher’s Conclusion: “PwMS [patients with MS] are at high risk of falls and there are important associations between falls and MS-associated disability, gender and age.”
My take on this: I hope it didn’t require rocket scientists to figure this out. The older we get and the more disabled we might be, the more likely it is we may fall.
And to round out my examples, here is one mere - Systematic review of factors associated with accidental falls in people with multiple sclerosis: a meta-analytic approach 3
From the study: “To determine whether there are demographic, clinical, and instrumental variables useful to detect fall status of patients with multiple sclerosis….
Conclusion: Elucidations regarding risk factors for accidental falls in patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMs) are provided here, with worse disability score, progressive course, use of walking aid, and poorer performances in static and dynamic balance tests strongly associated with fall status.”
Side note: This group earns a second look at their study by using elucidations in their work – before you run to your dictionary to look this up and risk falling, I did the work for us without running and increasing my fall risk, and I used my computer to search for the definition. And now I can explain that elucidation means to explain or make something clear… just like I am doing with this word.
My personal experience tells me: If you already need a cane, walker or wheelchair to get around, you obviously have problems with walking. If you have problems with walking, you might just fall down more often. And just for good measure, throw in the question of balance to see if the unbalanced fall more often. As best as I can tell, there are rarely intentional falls - the MS induced falls are almost always accidental. Would you agree?
The next time you read a headline proclaiming some new study results about living with multiple sclerosis and you find yourself nodding your head and thinking about how you could have saved them time and effort and provided the obvious answers, know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you.
Wishing you well,
Does your employer provide workplace accommodations due to your MS?