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Queen's hosts first meeting of international multiple sclerosis collaborators

The International MS Falls Prevention Research Network core group. 
Back row, from left to right: Dr. Davide Cattaneo and Dr. Jacob Sosnoff.
Front row, from left to right: Dr. Marcia Finlayson, Dr. Elizabeth Peterson,
Dr. Patricia Matsuda, and Dr. Susan Coote.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

The first meeting of the International MS Falls Prevention Research Network was held at Queen’s this week. The group was formed to bring together international researchers who are committed to developing and disseminating clinically relevant knowledge to reduce the frequency, severity and consequences of accidental falls among people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

For 60 per cent of people with MS, accidental falls are a commonly experienced functional consequence of the disease. Approximately half of these falls result in an injury requiring medical attention.

Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean (Health Sciences) and principal investigator of the network, says the inaugural meeting will enable the members to start designing a falls prevention intervention protocol that can be tested internationally.

“I’ve worked in the area of falls prevention for more than 10 years, and this area is a major focus in the research programs of each of the network members,” says Dr. Finlayson, who is also a professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. “We’ve been discussing a meeting like this for a while and our initial funding has allowed it to happen.”

A grant from the Principal’s Development Fund in 2012 is credited for initiating the vision for the network, and a Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Planning Grant enabled the inaugural meeting to occur.

The meeting took place from March 3 to 5 and built the foundations that the network will need to operate.

In addition to Dr. Finlayson, the core group of international co-investigators of the network include Michelle Cameron from Veteran’s Affairs Health Care in Portland, Oregon; Davide Cattaneo from the Don C. Gnocchi Foundation in Milan, Italy; Susan Coote from the University of Limerick, Ireland; Patricia Matsuda from the University of Washington at Seattle; Elizabeth Peterson from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Jacob Sosnoff from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In addition to the core group, approximately 30 other people attended the meeting including several other researchers working in related areas, local clinicians, and members of the Kingston community who have MS.

“Hearing from those affected by MS is critical to falls prevention as they are the ones who will be able to provide first hand insight and tell us their thoughts,” says Dr. Finlayson. “It’s hoped that our collective capacity will be greater than that of any individual team working alone.”