Study: Balance exercises may help people with MS

February 02, 2018
Balance problems and fatigue are common in multiple sclerosis patients and are tied to falls and limited mobility. People with MS can also have vision problems that cause them to make inappropriate movement corrections, which can cause further balance issues. A special program that involves balance and eye movement exercises may help people with MS with their balance problems and fatigue.
A University of Colorado School of Medicine study involved 88 people with MS who were able to walk 100 meters with no more assistance than using a cane or other device on one side. The participants completed assessments of their balance, fatigue, dizziness, and other factors. Then half of the participants completed six weeks of supervised exercises twice a week with instructions for exercising every day at home. For the next eight weeks, they had one supervised exercise session each week, and the daily exercises at home. The exercises included balancing on different surfaces and while walking, both with and without head movements and eyes open and closed, as well as eye movement exercises to help improve visual stability. The control group was told they were on  a waiting list for the program.
All of the participants were tested after six weeks and again at the end of the program. After six weeks, the people who had completed the exercise program had improved in their balance compared to the control group. On a computer-based balance test where healthy adults with no balance issues reach a score of about 90 or better out of 100, the scores of those who completed the exercise program went from an average of 63 at the start of the program to an average of 73 at six weeks. However the control group went from an average of 62 at the start to 66 at the end of the program. The improvements were still evident at the end of the study. 
The people who did the exercises also improved on the fatigue and dizziness tests compared to the control group.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.

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