Stepping impairments increase the risk of falls in people with MS. Some people suffer fall-related injuries and, as a consequence, can report a fear of falling that restricts their daily activities and quality of life. Impaired balance control is the most important risk factor for falling in MS.
Researchers from Australia investigated whether a certain type of step training can reduce this risk. This kind of training is based on interactive video games, which have the advantage of providing step training in a home setting.
Fifty people with MS took part in the study and were divided into two groups. One group received no intervention while the other group had an exercise therapist visiting them at home to conduct a risk assessment, set up the step training system and teach them how to use the system.
The findings from this study indicate that the step training programme was safe and feasible to be administered at home without supervision, and effective in improving stepping, standing balance, and coordination.
Future studies involving more people are needed to confirm these findings and determine whether other factors such as fatigue and fear of falling, can be improved, and whether step training can prevent falls.
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