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?
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an illness in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, causing nerve damage. People with MS often have trouble moving, which can make it hard to do daily activities and can lead to more disability. Exercise can decrease MS symptoms and make moving easier. However, some people with MS may not be able to get to a gym or may not have access to exercise equipment.
In this study, researchers are looking to see if an at-home exercise program can help improve mobility and quality of life for people with MS. The team is comparing the at-home exercise program to one that takes place in a facility such as a gym, where trained staff are available. In addition, the team is looking at whether people have better mobility and quality of life when they get to choose where they exercise, compared with when the research team assigns them by chance to exercise at home or in a facility.
Who can this research help?
Results from this study may help patients with MS and their doctors decide whether patients should exercise at home or in a facility. Medical and exercise professionals may also use the results to design effective exercise programs for people with MS.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is enrolling 500 adults with MS who are able to walk slowly. Half of the patients get to choose between a facility-based program or an at-home program. The research team assigns the other half to one of these two programs by chance. Both programs last four months. The programs have the same content, which is based on research evidence and tailored to each participant. Patients do aerobic and resistance training for 30 minutes twice per week. Trained coaches give instructions at the start of both programs. They also motivate patients to exercise during the program.
The facility-based program takes place at the five recruiting sites. A coach supervises participants in this program in person as needed.
The other program takes place at patients’ homes. Patients exercise using a DVD. A coach supervises patients as needed through online video calls such as Skype.
The research team is following up with patients to see whether the programs have improved their walking, mobility, quality of life, and self-confidence to exercise, and how often people exercise. In addition, the team is looking at whether people exercise more and have better quality of life when they can choose where their exercise program takes place compared with those who don’t get to choose where they exercise.
Patients with MS and medical and exercise professionals are helping to design the study, choose what to measure, and develop the exercise programs for people with MS.