Balance disorders occur frequently in MS, and can lead to abnormal postural stability and increased risk of falls.
Balance control is a complex skill. It involves the integration of sensory information from different systems, like the cerebellum, spinal cord, brain and visual areas.
Processing information from different sensory systems can stabilize the body’s centre-of-gravity and so prevent falls.
Because drugs provide little benefit for treating balance disorders in MS, rehabilitation may play a pivotal role. Different rehabilitation approaches have been described, but few trials to date have addressed rehabilitation of balance deficits in MS.
Recently, the Multiple Sclerosis Journal published the results of a single-blind, randomized, controlled trial involving 80 outpatients with MS at the Neuromotor and Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Centre of the University of Verona, Italy.
The aim was to compare the effects of new balance training with conventional rehabilitation on a large sample of patients with MS.
The new balance training aimed at enhancing integration between different sensory systems in brain and spinal cord.
The results show that, as compared with the conventional training, the new training may produce greater improvement in balance disorders in patients with relapsing-remitting MS.
These improvements may be maintained for at least one month post-treatment. Moreover, specific balance training may reduce fatigue, as well as the number of falls.
This gives more support for the effectiveness of sensory strategies in improving balance disorders and suggests potential training effects only partially investigated before.
It also suggests that physiotherapy might be a good way to reduce fatigue in people with MS.