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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Getting the Balance Right: A randomised controlled trial of physiotherapy and Exercise Interventions for ambulatory people with multiple sclerosis

Susan Coote1*, Maria Garrett1, Neasa Hogan1, Aidan Larkin2 and Jean Saunders3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

2 Project Coordinator, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

3 Statistical Consulting Unit, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

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BMC Neurology 2009, 9:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-34

Published: 16 July 2009

Abstract

Background

People with Multiple Sclerosis have a life long need for physiotherapy and exercise interventions due to the progressive nature of the disease and their greater risk of the complications of inactivity. The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland run physiotherapy, yoga and exercise classes for their members, however there is little evidence to suggest which form of physical activity optimises outcome for people with the many and varied impairments associated with MS.

Methods and design

This is a multi-centre, single blind, block randomised, controlled trial. Participants will be recruited via the ten regional offices of MS Ireland. Telephone screening will establish eligibility and stratification according to the mobility section of the Guys Neurological Disability Scale. Once a block of people of the same strand in the same geographical region have given consent, participants will be randomised. Strand A will concern individuals with MS who walk independently or use one stick to walk outside. Participants will be randomised to yoga, physiotherapy led exercise class, fitness instructor led exercise class or to a control group who don't change their exercise habits.

Strand B will concern individuals with MS who walk with bilateral support or a rollator, they may use a wheelchair for longer distance outdoors. Participants will be randomised to 1:1 Physiotherapist led intervention, group intervention led by Physiotherapist, group yoga intervention or a control group who don't change their exercise habits. Participants will be assessed by physiotherapist who is blind to the group allocation at week 1, week 12 (following 10 weeks intervention or control), and at 12 week follow up. The primary outcome measure for both strands is the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale. Secondary outcomes are Modified Fatigue Impact Scale, 6 Minute Walk test, and muscle strength measured with hand held dynamometry. Strand B will also use Berg Balance Test and the Modified Ashworth Scale. Confounding variables such as sensation, coordination, proprioception, range of motion and other impairments will be recorded at initial assessment.

Discussion

Data analysis will analyse change in each group, and the differences between groups. Sub group analysis may be performed if sufficient numbers are recruited.

Trial registration

ISRCTN77610415