MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: COVID-19 Vaccines, Robot Training, Bladder Treatment, Tysabri
Columnist Ed Tobias shares the week's top MS news, including a study about T-cell response to COVID-19 vaccines
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns that anti-CD20 therapies, such as Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), may interfere with the ability of a person with MS to fight a COVID-19 infection. But this report says that even if the vaccine attacks B-cells, it appears to boost our T-cells, which also fight infection. That seems like encouraging news for people taking B-cell-depleting disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) and something they might want to discuss with their neurologists.
The findings suggest that the vaccines strongly activate other parts of the immune system that are helpful in fighting the virus, even in patients who failed to develop an antibody response.
In robotic-assisted gait training, or RAGT, a patient wears a robotic device that helps support the body and allows the person to stand and walk during rehabilitation. According to this review of several studies, RAGT led to significant improvements in the six-minute walk test and the 10-meter walk test. The first test measures distance, and the second measures speed. Fatigue and balance also improved.
Robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) may be the most effective form of physical exercise for improving mobility among people with severe multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a recent review study.
Other exercise types, such as conventional walking, treadmill training, and yoga, may also be feasible and effective, however, the researchers found.
Will applying a low electrical current to the leg help control bladder problems in people with MS? Maybe. Researchers used a device called a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit to deliver electrical stimulation to specific nerves in the legs to try to inhibit muscle contraction and to relax the muscles around the bladder to lessen sensations of pressure or urgency.
My wife used a TENS unit to reduce muscular pain many years ago. The unit was easy to use and inexpensive. It would be great if this same type of treatment could relieve some MS bladder problems.
Transcutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (TTNS), a procedure sending an electric current through the skin to nerves in the legs, is generally safe and feasible in people with overactive bladder due to multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a proof-of-concept study.
Though the study was not designed to test the efficacy of TTNS, data suggest that the intervention helped to ease bladder problems in patients.
Yes, it did help — but only for some symptoms. These researchers analyzed data from the Australian MS Long Study and found that MS patients using Tysabri (natalizumab) self-reported greater reductions in several MS symptoms than those treated with other DMTs. However, Tysabri did not outperform other treatments in lessening pain, fatigue, or spasticity (muscle stiffness). I think those are some pretty important symptoms, don’t you?
Tysabri (natalizumab) outperforms other disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) in its ability to lessen a range of patient-reported symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to data from a large real-world study.
These symptoms include balance difficulties, sensory problems, feelings of anxiety, bladder problems, vision problems, and sexual dysfunction.
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