Good vibrations – can they improve balance in MS?

MS Research Australia is currently funding several clinical trials that are testing interventions to better manage some of the symptoms of MS. These include a number of approaches to improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls for people with MS. Other studies are assessing psychological interventions for depression and anxiety, and new approaches to exercising for people with higher levels of disability or heat sensitivity.

In the latest round of MS Research Australia grants, Dr David Kennedy was awarded an Incubator Grant to investigate whether exercises combined with whole-body vibration can improve mobility and balance and reduce falls in people with MS. Whole-body vibration is thought to increase the amount of sensory information that gets delivered to the nerves in the spinal cord to help the nerves better control muscle activity and movement. While previous studies have investigated the effects of whole body vibration for mobility in MS, most have been too small to provide clear evidence of whether whole-body vibration is more effective than standard exercise.

Dr Kennedy will test whether a home-based exercise regime combined with whole-body vibration is more effective to improve mobility outcomes and reduce falls in people with MS compared to the same exercise regime without whole-body vibration.

Given that about 60% of people with MS will suffer at least one fall per year and more than 30% will suffer three or more falls within a twelve month period, this study will address a feature of MS that can significantly affect both safety and quality of life.

Dr Kennedy aims to recruit 104 people with MS to perform exercises over a twelve week period. This study is unique in that it has a home-based setting, which will have greater ‘real-life’ relevance for people with MS.

Dr Kennedy’s study is currently recruiting in Sydney. Other symptom management studies, including a trial to treat ankle contractures (stiff ankles) are also recruiting in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

These studies provide participants with the opportunity to access innovative approaches to symptom management as well as contributing to the development of new treatments that may benefit the wider MS community. To learn more about these studies and other clinical trials, visit the MS Clinical Trials website.



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Good vibrations – can they improve balance in MS?