Multiple sclerosis is a neuromuscular disease process that is caused by demyelination of nerves and axonal degeneration. This causes slowing of signals from the central nervous system to the muscular system. Therefore, functional mobility is often compromised in MS.
Two of the more common symptoms of MS are fatigue and limited mobility and balance control issues. These impairments can have a profound effect on the psychological status of patients with MS.
A recent study published in the Physical Therapy Journal examined the effect of a vestibular rehabilitation program on decreasing fatigue and improving balance in patients with MS.
The examiners recruited 38 people diagnosed with MS and randomized them into three groups. One group received vestibular and balance rehabilitation, one group participated in bicycle endurance and stretching exercises and the final group received standard medical care with no exercise intervention. The two exercise groups exercised 2 times per week for 6 weeks and received instruction in a home exercise program specific to their group.
Outcomes measures included measures of fatigue, measures of balance, and a measure of walking endurance. Secondary measures were a measure of disability related to dizziness and a measure of depression.
The results of the study indicate that the group receiving vestibular and balance training showed greater improvement in fatigue, balance, and disability due to dizziness than the other groups. The researchers conclude that balance and vestibular rehabilitation may have positive effects for people with MS who have fatigue and diminished upright postural control.
If you have MS, ask your doctor or physical therapist about the best way to treat fatigue and balance control problems. The results of this study may provide insight into the correct intervention for you.