Project Summary

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.

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
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Gait
  • Strength

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

Design Element Description
Study Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Adults age 18 to 70 with MS
  • Home-based exercise rehabilitation program 
  • Clinic-based exercise rehabilitation program

Primary: quality of life

Secondary: physical activity, pain, fatigue, balance, endurance, gait, strength

Timeframe 12-month follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

James Rimmer, PhD, MA
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Comparative Effectiveness Trial between a Clinic- and Home-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Telerehabilitation Intervention for Adults with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Key Dates

July 2016
October 2023

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: March 14, 2024