A new study conducted at the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science of the University of Vermont, reinforces the idea that multiple sclerosis patients can handle exercise regimens, despite their mobility difficulties, in order to improve not only their motor capacities, but also their quality of life. Although over 90% of patients report having difficulties with mobility, maintaining it is one MS patients’ highest priorities.
Susan Kasser, PhD, was able to demonstrate that patients with MS tolerate exercise, and that it improves their fitness, function, and quality of life, in her study “Understanding and Treating Balance Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis,” which was conducted in collaboration with Jesse V. Jacobs, PhD, and was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
“Given the inherent variability of MS and the heterogeneity of symptoms and disease course across individuals, no single exercise prescription is optimal for all those diagnosed. Treatment goals must be individualized,” explained Kasser, who is the director of the Exercise and Movement Science Program and is an associate professor of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at the University of Vermont.
Kasser concluded in her study that balance-oriented exercise can help patients with MS, improving their balance and functional mobility, even though she believes further study is needed on the topic. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends that patients integrate into exercise groups especially created for them, which included individualized exercise programs designed for cardiovascular fitness, strength, and balance, which may also help in decreasing fatigue and depression.
A physiotherapy professor from the Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia, recently created a new training manual for clinicians, as she advocates the need for regular and ongoing physiotherapy in the public health system. Sheila Lennon also believes that group exercise can be beneficial in improving patients’ health and quality of life.