Design: A population-based study in a prevalence cohort of multiple sclerosis subjects in Central Finland region carried out in the year 2000.
Subjects: A total of 240 subjects with multiple sclerosis.
Methods: A postal questionnaire for assessing physical functioning was developed.
Results: Ninety percent of the study population completed the study. Subjects' average age was 48.2 years (range 20–76 years) and time since symptom onset was 15.8 years (range 0–56 years). Of the subjects, 82% were fully independent in self-care activities and 53% in domestic life, 50% were able to walk without any perceived problems and 38% had a permanent need for a walking aid. Fatigue was the most frequent complaint having an impact on subjects' daily life. Ninety-five subjects out of 240 (40%) were engaged in working life.
Conclusion: These data give a clear indication of favourable functioning in mobility, self-care and domestic life. However, the fact remains that multiple sclerosis is a disabling and costly disease. These results provide information for use by local and national authorities in planning and co-ordinating rehabilitation interventions and social services.