Study Recruiting MS Patients to Assess Exercise and Behavioral Therapy

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multiple sclerosis and exercise

Dr. Bradley Bowser, a South Dakota State University (SDSU) researcher and assistant professor, is investigating whether the practice of exercise, either by itself or together with cognitive behavioral therapy, can effectively improve mobility and quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is a neurodegenerative condition that often induces motor disability. Motor symptoms like leg weakness may impair a  patient’s ability to walk and stand up. According to Dr. Bowser, balance, flexibility, and resistance training can counteract these symptoms.

A previous study investigated 16 weeks of sit-to-stand training in MS patients, and concluded that the strength and the speed at which patients performed the movement had improved. However, Dr. Bowser noted that study participants with leg weakness were actually thrusting their upper body part forward to generate the momentum required to push upward. “If they don’t change the mechanics, they may increase stress on the lower back that could lead to pain or injury,” Dr. Bowser, also the director of the biomechanics laboratory in the Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, said in a SDSU news release.

In this study, Dr. Bowser will analyze if exercises directed to strengthen leg muscles and increase balance can ultimately improve the ability to perform a proper sit-to-stand movement. Together with Dr. Kristin Bruns, assistant professor at the counseling and human development department, researchers will also assess whether cognitive behavioral therapy could help patients to mentally cope with their symptoms and condition, leading to an improvement in life quality.

The study will involve a 10-week intervention for 20 MS patients who can walk 20 feet without help. The intervention will include exercise for one hour, twice a week, focused on strengthening muscles and improving balance. Ten patients will also participate in a cognitive behavioral therapy session for one hour every week.

Dr. Bowser is currently recruiting participants for this study. People wanting more information or interested in participating can contact Dr. Bowser at or by calling 605-688-4829. Each participant will receive a $50 payment. The participant evaluations at baseline and post-intervention will be performed at The Barn on the SDSU campus. The exercises and/or behavioral therapy sessions will take place at either SDSU or Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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