STEP for MS to Study ‘Telerehab’ Exercise Programs

Laura Kolaczkowski avatar

by Laura Kolaczkowski |

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Exercise and multiple sclerosis are a natural pair and shown by research to be an important part of our MS care plan. We all can benefit from getting an assessment by a professional therapist and having an exercise plan customized for our MS, but accessing exercise in a way that’s easy to attend, affordable, and sustainable is often problematic.

Supervised vs. Telerehab Exercise Program for People with MS (STEP for MS) is a research project designed to answer the question: “In people with MS, does an evidence-based individualized exercise program delivered via telerehab yield comparable benefits for improving walking and mobility, participation, and quality of life when compared to delivery via a conventional, facility-based approach?”

Co-investigators Deborah Backus, PhD, PT, from the Shepherd Center, and Rob Motl, PhD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, received funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct this comparative effectiveness research study looking at the effects of an exercise program delivered in a center versus at home via remote methods, known as “telerehab.” If the study proves that people with MS can exercise as safely and effectively at home as in a center, it could open up exercise possibilities for so many more people with MS.

Discuss the latest research in the MS News Today forums!

I am fortunate to be a member of the project team and on the MS advisory panel for STEP for MS, and we have worked through designs for this research question for almost a year now. I’ll write more on this complex process in the future. For now, my focus is on letting you know we are recruiting more people to help.

All potential participants do an in-person visit at the center for a review of their MS status and other study criteria. If selected to participate in STEP for MS, the person is randomized to either the in-person or the telerehab exercise programs. There are seven sites located across the country that are participating in this study, and they are looking for people who would like to help.

The MS physical therapy sites that are recruiting participants are:

  • Shepherd Center, Atlanta
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee
  • Cleveland Clinic Mellen Foundation
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Georgia, Athens
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

If you are located close to these centers and would like to help, you can contact the center directly. Click the following link for each site’s contact information:

If we can show that telerehab is effective, the next step will be to share the research results with doctors and payers, to make the exercise program widely available for people with MS.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Kara avatar


I have a $50 copay per PT session through my insurance plan. I think supervised PT may be somewhat more beneficial, but "tele-rehab" is much more affordable. I have found benefit from using my membership with MS Gym. YouTube has free videos as well. Many are limited in their transportation to go to rehab, so tele-rehab is their best option.

Kathy Ford avatar

Kathy Ford

I live about 30 miles from if I can be of any help. I would love an exercise program dedicated to me.

Martin Matko avatar

Martin Matko

'“To be effective, our health care system needs restructuring to focus on prevention and addressing root causes of disease. Overcoming this challenge is the greatest hurdle facing public health today. It has little to do with science or with technology, but rather with regulation and public policy."'

Jacque avatar


The ms gym is great! I have increased core strength, improved walking, and no more briefs means no more bladder infections

Zuhaib B Taimuri avatar

Zuhaib B Taimuri

Do you have any Centers in the UK please

Deborah Shea avatar

Deborah Shea

I live in Virginia and minutes from Washington DC and Maryland. Are there any rehab centers available in these areas?

maureen Miller avatar

maureen Miller

My husband has MS and heis 70 years old. We go to physical therapy 2x week but because of insurance we have to sit out a while 6-8 weeks. During this time all his benefit from therapy is diminished. What is MS Gym? We do need therapy in a consistent manner.


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