For those afflicted with multiple sclerosis and for those assisting a friend or family member suffering from it, is a never-ending battle. It is a disease that hinders multiple senses and dramatically alters everyday life. The struggles that it creates are never easily remedied. There was encouraging news recently from The Medical Journal of The American Academy of Neurology. A significant research finding reveals a wonderful discovery that could help multiple sclerosis patients to better navigate life.
For years, doctors have believed in the positive benefits of exercise in combating the disease. This study gives concrete evidence that exercise may generate even more significant benefits than previously believed. And these benefits provide greater hope for simplifying the lives of those afflicted. The study set out to determine just how much benefit exercise provides. Eighty-eight multiple sclerosis patients were divided into two groups. The first group was measured to determine if exercise altered fatigue, balance, dizziness and other challenges associated with the disease. The second group was not put on an exercise regimen. Thus, a comparison of the effects of the regiment could be made.
“Most rehabilitation programs to improve balance have focused mainly on strength exercises and balance exercises that are not designed for the specific problems of people with MS,” says study author Jeffrey R. Hebert, PT, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora. “We wanted to see if performing balance and eye-movement exercises while processing multiple different sensory information could help people improve their balance and fatigue issues.”
Participants were asked to walk on elevations in order to record a difference in their abilities. The results were drawn from a computerized balance test. Those patients in the exercise group showed significant balance improvement. The average balance scores of the group improved from 63 to 73 after the exercise regimen. The group without the exercise regiment improved as well, but only from an average of 62 at the beginning of the term to 66 at the conclusion.
Similar results were found in both the fatigue and dizziness tests. Once again, the exercise group showed significantly greater improvement when compared to the group without exercise. The results are expected to influence future physician recommendations. The next step, however, is to determine if the results are isolated. Physicians need to know if the benefits of exercise sustain over time.
As with any medical condition, the benefits versus the risks must be carefully measured by physicians depending on the individual patient. "Many people exercised before they were sick or got a diagnosis,” says Sabrina Paganoni, MD and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Afterward, they still want to exercise and need to know if it's okay to continue. Others wonder if it's safe and whether it will help slow down or improve symptoms."
Should the results prove as sustainable, then neurologists could consider the benefits of exercise in treating other medical conditions. These benefits could enhance the treatment of patients suffering from migraine headaches, strokes, concussions, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and even Alzheimer's disease. Once again, before positive results can be definitively extrapolated to these conditions, sustainability must be shown.
For now, the news is very encouraging for multiple sclerosis patients. Further studies can also help determine if exercise can significantly improve other symptoms. According to facty.com, these symptoms include numbness and tingling in the body, body spasms and an overall feeling of weakness. Perhaps, one day studies will reveal the positive effect of exercise on these symptoms as well.
About The Author:
Serene Hitchcock is a professional freelance writer, blogger and social media strategist from San Diego, California. She has been writing for several years in many forms and facets and is interested in arts, health, self-improvement, current events and the world we live in.