Body weight assisted locomotive therastride training in multiple sclerosis : Master of Health Science in Sport and Exercise at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

Author: Smith, Rebecca

Date: 2021

Publisher: Massey University

Type: Thesis

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Massey University


Introduction: Being mobile is an important aspect of life, however, more than 85% of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) report walking difficulties. They typically walk slower, with reduced stride and step length and may have poor balance or weakness within the legs. As the disease progresses, individuals lose the ability to be mobile. Currently exercise prescription is not offered as a method of treatment for those with poor walking ability with MS. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 12 week body weight assisted locomotive training programme in individuals with poor walking ability and MS. Methods: Participants were recruited from the Palmerston North Multiple Sclerosis Society. Baseline testing consisted of the measurement of step and stride length, 6 minute walk test and balance tests. For the next 12 weeks, participants continued with their daily tasks. Following this participants repeated baseline tests and then completed 24 body weight assisted treadmill training sessions, twice per week, across a 12-week period. This was followed by post testing, step and stride length, 6-minute walk test and balance tests. Results: Six MS individuals with an expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score of 5.5-8 took part in the research over 26 weeks. The baseline results for step length were 36cm for the right side and 29cm for the left side. Stride length was 63.7cm for the right and 60.8cm for the left. For the 6-minute walk test the result was 126m. Following 12 weeks of no intervention the results were reduced for all measures (step length 34.7cm on the right side and 27.6cm on the left side, stride length 62.26cm for the right and 60.3cm for the left, and 6MWT 97.98m). After 12 weeks of locomotive therastride intervention, twice weekly, the results increased for all measurements (step length 43.5cm for the right side and 39.5cm for the left side, stride length 80.4cm for the right and 70.4cm for the left and 6MWT was 147m). The results demonstrated a significant improvement from testing 2 to testing 3 with the locomotive intervention in all areas but balance. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the important effect that body weight support treadmill training can have on improving mobility, MS symptoms and the benefit of an effective and safe method of training for individuals with a higher EDSS score.

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