PCORI has identified multiple sclerosis (MS) as an important research topic. Patients, clinicians, and others want to learn how different treatment strategies, aimed at changing specific symptoms or the overall course of MS, affect patients’ symptoms and quality of life. To address this issue, PCORI launched a funding initiative in 2015 on Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. This research project is one of the studies PCORI awarded as part this program.
COVID-19-Related Project Enhancement
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are vulnerable to health risks from COVID-19. Due to these risks, people with MS may reduce physical activity or avoid in-person rehab sessions. Also, in response to COVID-19, many health systems have shifted from in-person care to telehealth. Telehealth provides care to patients remotely using phone, video, or other devices that can help manage care.
With this enhancement, the research team wants to learn whether a telehealth rehab program can have a similar effect as when the program is offered in person. Both programs consist of yoga, Pilates, and other exercises for patients with MS. The telehealth program occurs in real time via videoconference. The in-person program takes place at a clinic.
Enhancement Award Amount: $499,871
This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
About 400,000 Americans have MS, a condition that affects the central nervous system and can cause fatigue, numbness, and vision, bladder, and mobility problems. Exercise can help manage some of these symptoms. However, exercise programs are not available to many patients, particularly in rural areas. Offering exercise support over the Internet or telephone may help provide exercise services to people in rural areas. This study looks at how much benefit patients get from an exercise rehabilitation program delivered over the Internet or telephone, as compared to the same exercise program in a clinic.
Who can this research help?
Findings from this study can help healthcare staff decide how to provide exercise and rehabilitation services to patients with MS. This research can also help patients with MS who are deciding about exercise programs.
What is the research team doing?
Researchers are working with 820 patients with MS who get health care from 38 clinics across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. At half of these clinics, patients receive exercise and rehabilitation services in person. Patients at the other half of the clinics get a tablet computer that contains exercise and rehabilitation videos with instructions for use at home. These patients also get regular calls at home from the program to provide encouragement and to find out whether they have had any problems completing the exercise program.
The exercise programs last 12 weeks. Researchers follow up with patients 3, 6, and 12 months after the exercise program ends to compare how the clinic-based and home-based exercise rehabilitation programs affect:
- Quality of life
- Physical activity
Researchers are also measuring whether the home-based and clinic-based exercise programs work differently for patients of different ages and levels of disability.
Doctors, caregivers, and a group of patients who have MS provide advice on what the study should measure (such as patient pain and fatigue), what equipment patients with MS need in order to do the exercises, and how to motivate patients to exercise.
Research methods at a glance
A Telehealth-Based Exercise Option for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
James Rimmer, PhD speaks about his PCORI-funded study, which is testing the effectiveness of a home-based exercise plan for patients with multiple sclerosis who are unable to exercise in the community against a traditional, clinic-based exercise plan.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Other Clinical Interventions
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
- No information provided by awardee.
Other Stakeholder Partners
- No information provided by awardee.