Mr. Donald Manlapaz, MSPT, PTRP presented a research poster entitled “Factors associated with risk of falling in adults with knee osteoarthritis: a cross sectional study” in a European conference last June 2018. His co-authors in the paper were P. Jayakaran, G. Sole, and CM Chapple, all from the University of Otago’s School of Physiotherapy.

The paper intended to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding adults with knee osteoarthritis, for they have been known to be at risk of falls. The cross-sectional study explored the relationship between falling in adults with knee OA and the clinical characteristics of knee OA, such as balance, pain, instability, muscle strength, and physical function.

Participants were recruited from Dunedin, New Zealand and were checked for possible history of falls. Measures such as the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) using NeuroCom SMART Equitest system, version 8.4.0 which produced Composite Score; Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score for knee OA related symptoms; Knee outcome survey for self-reported knee instability (buckling); Nicholas MMT hand-held dynamometer for quadriceps and hamstrings isometric muscle strength  measured at 20 and 70 degrees; and Timed-Up and Go (TUG) test for physical function were used.

The study demonstrated that balance, knee muscle strength, and performance of physical function significantly differed between those with and without the history of falling. An understanding of these risk factors may help in implementing an appropriate evaluation and intervention strategy to reduce falls in this patient population. Given the prevalence of falls in knee OA, this study suggests that falls assessment should be part of the clinical practice routine when evaluating patients with knee OA.

Manlapaz is a faculty member of the Department of Physical Therapy and is currently enrolled in the University of Otago to finish his doctoral studies.