Falls and Fear of Falling in Parkinson’s Disease With and Without Deep Brain Stimulation

The Parkinson Alliance reports findings pertaining to falls in Parkinson’s on DBS4PD.org

KINGSTON, N.J., December 12, 2013—New findings from The Parkinson Alliance (PA) show that falls are highly prevalent in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and may be adversely impacted by deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy. Given that falls are a substantial problem for people with PD with health, social and psychological implications, PA conducted a survey related to falls for individuals with PD with and without DBS.

In the study "Falls and Fear of Falling in Parkinson’s Disease With and Without Deep Brain Stimulation," there were 1,153 individuals who participated, including 334 participants with PD who underwent DBS and 819 individuals with PD without DBS. There was a high prevalence for falls in this population with increased frequency as the disease progresses. Individuals who have DBS of the subthalamic nucleus (DBS-STN) have 2.52 times the risk of falling compared to individuals with PD who do not have DBS. Factors contributing to falls include balance problems, gait disturbance, freezing, fatigue, vision problems, difficulties with cognition, depression and anxiety, and decreased arm swing.

"This research is part of the bigger mission for PA: to give a voice to the individual with PD to better understand his or her experiences with this disease, and to give practical recommendations to help individuals with PD and those who share their lives," said Jeffrey Wertheimer, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist and Chief Research Consultant for PA. "Falls may result in increased medical attention and expense, psychological distress, restriction in engagement of activities, and reduced quality of life. This particular study highlights the importance of attending to the risk factors related to falls in PD, and implementation of fall prevention programs. Falls and related treatment should be discussed regularly and routinely with individuals with PD ... For individuals who are receiving DBS therapy, increased education about and intervention for fall prevention should be discussed during each follow-up visit with their doctor,” added Wertheimer.

About The Parkinson Alliance (PA)
The Parkinson Alliance is a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for Parkinson’s research and improving the quality of life in the DBS community. Margaret Tuchman, President of PA, underwent bi-lateral DBS in 2000 and founded DBS4PD.org to keep the community informed.

For more information about research conducted by PA, visit www.dbs4pd.org or call 1-800-579-8440.
Aurore Duboille
DBS Research Coordinator
The Parkinson Alliance