Balance confidence and functional mobility are independently associated with falls in people with Parkinson’s disease
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The present study aimed to examine the association of falls with self-perceived balance confidence level, and balance and mobility performance in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Forty-nine healthy subjects and 71 subjects with PD completed the study. Among the PD patients, 33 (46%) were fallers and 38 were non-fallers. All subjects were tested with the activities-specific balance confidence scale (ABC), one-leg-stance test (OLS), and timed-up-and-go test (TUG). Results indicated that PD fallers had significantly lower ABC scores, shorter OLS times and longer times to complete TUG than PD non-fallers (P < 0.05). Having a high ABC score (>80) was significantly associated with a lower fall risk, after adjusting for age, gender, and duration of PD, and for depression [odds ratio (OR) = 0.06, P = 0.020]. For performance-based measures of balance and mobility, a longer TUG time (≥16 s) was independently associated with increased risk of falling after controlling for relevant factors (OR = 3.86, P = 0.043); OLS time, however, was not significantly associated with falls. A lower self-perceived balance confidence level and a prolonged time to complete TUG were associated with increased risk of falling in patients with PD. Interventions to improve these modifiable risk factors could be useful in reducing future falls in the PD population and will require further study.