A multimedia smartphone application designed to precisely inform about exercise and track physical activity led primary or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) patients to be more active — but no more than a comparison patient group given only a “simple leaflet” about exercise, a pilot study reported.
Those who used the app, however, reported greater motivation to adapt a more active lifestyle, and appreciated its use.
The study, “Feasibility of a smartphone app to enhance physical activity in progressive MS: a pilot randomized controlled pilot trial over three months,” was published in the journal PeerJ, Life & Environment.
A possible treatment approach for people with progressive MS may be lifestyle interventions, such as greater physical activity. Clinical research has shown that exercise promotes neuroregeneration, and improves heart and lung fitness, walking ability, muscular strength, endurance, cognition, and health-related quality of life.
With the wide availability of smartphones, specific applications (apps) can be used to provide evidence-based patient information. Smartphones are also able to track and capture physical activity data using accelerometry, which serves as a more objective feedback mechanism to validate the effects of an intervention.
Researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany created an app that can provide updated information directly to the smartphone, as well as collect physical activity data, with a goal of increasing physical activity in people with primary or secondary progressive MS.
A total of 38 adults, with an average age of 51, were randomized to either a control group of 20 patients or an intervention group of 18 patients. Two control patients left the study before it finished.
Those in the intervention group received access to the app, which had text, figures and videos, along with activity feedback. The evidence-based information in the app came from studies in which MS patients evaluated the effects of exercising.
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