Exercise and Multiple Sclerosis
April 29, 2010
Participation in an exercise program can be a challenge for most people, but it can be especially difficult if someone loses mobility as a result of a chronic condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS). While these challenges may often seem insurmountable, there are many strategies that make it possible for people with MS-related mobility problems to participate in, and gain significant benefit from, a carefully designed and customized program of regular exercise. THE IMPACT OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease of the central nervous system. It degrades the myelin sheath that covers and protects axons or nerve tissue in the body. There is also evidence that the disease damages nerve tissue itself. MS can compromise the ability of nerves to function normally, which can also affect mobility, feeling, and sensory perception. It may also cause fatigue and a loss of muscle mass due to the inability of the patients to exercise adequately. A critical element of treatment is the need to watch for signs of progression of the disease. Multiple sclerosis progression is most commonly measured through a scale called the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), which focuses largely on a person's ambulatory ability.(n1) Many doctors also use a measurement called the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC), which is a three-part composite assessment that uses a wide variety of individual measures of function including: Timed 25-Foot Walk; 9-Hole Peg Test; and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT).(n4) These measurement tools include a strong focus on mobility, which is a primary consideration in monitoring the health of people with MS. MOBILITY FOR THOSE WITH MS
Mobility is simply the quality of being mobile. In a rehab setting for people with MS, mobility is often expressed in terms of an individual's ability to walk and move from one surface to another....
References: n1. Kileff, J. and Ashburn, A. "A Pilot Study of the Effect of Aerobic Exercise on People with Moderate Disability Multiple Sclerosis.” Clinical
Rehabilitation, 19 (2005): 165-169.
n4. Martin C.L., et al. "Gait and Balance Impairment in Early Multiple Sclerosis in the Absence of Clinical Disability.” Multiple Sclerosis, 12, NO.5 (2006): 620-8.
n6. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "Loss of Mobility Found to Impact Quality of Life and Emotional and Financial Health of Most People Living with Multiple Sclerosis.” (MAR 25, 2008)
(Accessed April 20, 2010).n7. Petajan; J.H., et al. "Impact of Aerobic Training on Fitness and Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis.” Annals of Neurology, 39, NO. 4 (APR 1996):
Randomized Crossover Controlled Study.” Physical Therapy, 87, NO.5
n9. Romberg, A., et al. "Effects of a 6-Month Exercise Program on Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Study.” Annals of Neurology, 63, NO.4 (2004): 20034-38.
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