Catastrophic falls in patients who have fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva

David L. Glaser, David M Rocke, Frederick S. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


There have been numerous anecdotal reports of catastrophic falls in patients with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. To determine the incidence of serious morbidity and mortality associated with falls in this patient population, the authors surveyed the 135 patient members of the International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association and an age and gender matched control group. Eighty-one percent of the fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva population suffered a fall resulting in injury compared with 44% of the controls. Sixty-seven percent of the falls initiated a painful flareup of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva leading to permanent loss of movement in almost all patients. Fifty-four percent of all falls suffered by the fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva group led to permanent disability compared with 4% of all falls in the control group. Although trauma to the head was a common site of injury in both groups, the injury profile in the fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva group included traumatic brain injuries, intracranial hemorrhage and death whereas the control group suffered mostly minor soft tissue lacerations. Deficiencies in coordinate gait and protective function likely accounted for the severity of injuries especially to the head in the fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva population. Precautions are recommended that are intended to minimize the risk of injury without compromising a patient's functional level and independence. These recommendations include limitation of high risk activities, protective head gear, safety improvements in living environments, and augmentation of stabilizing and protective functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Issue number346
StatePublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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