Group exercise crucial for people with MS

Group exercise crucial for people with MS
Professor of Physiotherapy Sheila Lennon says group exercise is beneficial for people with MS

(Medical Xpress)—Group exercise should become a standard health practice in South Australia's public health system to provide much-needed support for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), Flinders University Professor of Physiotherapy Sheila Lennon says.

Professor Lennon says at present, people with MS in South Australia do not receive regular, ongoing physiotherapy in the once they are diagnosed.

"Patients might be entitled to a few sessions with a physiotherapist to work out a management plan but because MS is a long-standing, progressive condition it's not possible for physiotherapists to see and review them on a regular basis," Professor Lennon said.

"If someone has a stroke they get admitted to a unit for a period of rehabilitation, followed by a much more targeted approach for community rehabilitation when they are discharged," she said.

"But people with MS don't have the same access to services so something like a structured group exercise program would make therapy more accessible."

The push follows a major study led by Professor Lennon in the UK, which found significant improvements in balance, mobility and quality of life for 177 MS patients who were involved in a series of structured group exercise classes between 2008 and 2011.

Groups of up to eight participants at a time were recruited for the circuit-style exercise classes, facilitated by a physiotherapist and an assistant, where they learnt techniques to improve balance, coordination and mobility. The sessions also included an education component whereby participants learnt self-management and goal-setting strategies, particularly regarding falls prevention.

"The participants were taught exercises that they could easily carry out in their own homes or communities – we didn't use any fancy equipment because the whole idea was to make it accessible," Professor Lennon, who presented the findings at the World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation in 2012 and the Australian Physiotherapy Combined Sections Conference in 2013, said.

"We found significant improvements in their balance, mobility, walking speed and quality of life in terms of participating in leisure and in the community.

"The take home message from the study was that it really is feasible to treat people with MS in a setting in the community."

Professor Lennon has now developed a training manual that enables clinicians to deliver the program "in a way that doesn't put excessive demand on the health department", and is in talks with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of SA/NT and SA Health to explore the feasibility of running the program.

"Instead of seeing one person at a time, which clogs up waiting lists, the physiotherapist could run the classes over a six-week period every three months so people can join in when they want and continue using the exercises at home between breaks in the program.

"MS is a disease that strikes people in the prime of life, between the ages of 20 and 45 years, which means they're still working, raising families and dealing with financial responsibilities so anything we can do to improve their quality of life should be explored."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New exercise guidelines developed for people with MS

Oct 11, 2013

According to new research out of Queen's University, an active lifestyle has many benefits for adults living with multiple sclerosis. Based on that research, Amy Latimer-Cheung (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies) has ...

Osteoarthritis improved by extra physiotherapy programmes

Jul 24, 2013

Aanual physiotherapy or regular exercise programmes make a significant difference for people with painful osteoarthritis in the knee and hip joints, and are cost-effective, new research from the University of Otago shows.

Mobility key to quality of life for MS sufferers

May 18, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Reduced mobility among patients with secondary‐progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is associated with a decline in quality of life, according to new data presented today at the ...

Recommended for you

New ALS associated gene identified using innovative strategy

15 hours ago

Using an innovative exome sequencing strategy, a team of international scientists led by John Landers, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has shown that TUBA4A, the gene encoding the Tubulin Alpha 4A protein, ...

Can bariatric surgery lead to severe headache?

15 hours ago

Bariatric surgery may be a risk factor for a condition that causes severe headaches, according to a study published in the October 22, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurol ...

Bipolar disorder discovery at the nano level

15 hours ago

A nano-sized discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists helps explain how bipolar disorder affects the brain and could one day lead to new drug therapies to treat the mental illness.

Brain simulation raises questions

19 hours ago

What does it mean to simulate the human brain? Why is it important to do so? And is it even possible to simulate the brain separately from the body it exists in? These questions are discussed in a new paper ...

Human skin cells reprogrammed directly into brain cells

19 hours ago

Scientists have described a way to convert human skin cells directly into a specific type of brain cell affected by Huntington's disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Unlike other techniques ...

User comments