Effects of exercise on fitness and cognition in progressive MS: a randomised, controlled pilot trial

This pilot randomised-controlled trial looked at the potential benefit of standardised exercise as a therapeutic intervention in progressive MS. Interestingly, exercise has shown to enhance neuroregeneration and plasticity as well as improve learning and memory in rodents. The researchers compared three endurance-training interventions in people with progressive MS with an EDSS of 4-6. The patients were randomised to one of three exercise interventions-arm ergometry, rowing, bicycle ergometry for 8-10 weeks or a waitlist control group. The primary endpoint was aerobic fitness with walking ability, cognitive function, depression and fatigue as secondary endpoints. There was a drop-out rate of 10.6%.

The researchers found significant improvements in aerobic fitness as well as improvements in walking ability, depressive symptoms, fatigue and cognitive function (learning, memory and attention). Therefore, this study demonstrates that aerobic training could be beneficial in people with progressive MS. The short term effects from this study are encouraging, but it is unknown if these effects can be sustained over longer periods of time. Further studies are needed to confirm the potential effect of exercise on cognitive function.

Authors: Briken S, Gold S
Source: Mult Scler. 2013 Oct 24. [Epub ahead of print]

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