The purpose of this study was to identify differences in community mobility in adults with multiple sclerosis at various ambulation levels.
Seventy-one people with multiple sclerosis completed a survey about their mobility impairment and avoidance of challenging mobility tasks. Individuals were categorized as having mild, moderate, or severe gait impairment.
Participants across the different functional groups significantly differed in perceived ambulation disability, fatigue impact, falls efficacy, quality of life, challenges with dual-tasking, and self-efficacy for community mobility. There were no significant differences between the mild and moderate gait impairment groups in crossing a busy street or going out in different ambient conditions. Significant differences were found between those with mild impariment and those with severe impairment in avoidance of various terrain elements, heavy manual doors, postural transitions, attentional situations, and crowded places. The only environmental dimension that significantly differed across all 3 groups was carrying 2 or more items, in which avoidance increased as ambulation worsened.
Avoidance behavior for particular environmental features can begin relatively early in the disease process. This underscores the need to further study mobility differences, community ambulation, and participation restrictions in adults with multiple sclerosis.