Intensive Neurorehabilitation Improves Treatment Outcomes in MS

By Annette M. Boyle, MDalert.com Contributor
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For many people with progressive multiple sclerosis, motor disability is often accompanied by depression and fatigue, which can reduce quality of life and response to therapy.

Researchers at the Vita-Salute San Farraele University in Milan, Italy, sought to determine the impact of pre-existing depression on response to intensive motor neurorehabilitation in these patients. The results of the study will be presented on October 26 at the 2017 European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) annual meeting in Paris (poster 619).


Fatigue. (Source: Creative Commons)

The investigators recruited 40 patients, of which 22 were female, with an average age of 48.5 years. Participants were randomized to intervention or control groups. Researchers conducted tests of motor skills, fatigue, pain, depression and functional independence at baseline for all participants. At baseline, the two groups had no significant differences in performance.

All were reevaluated at 3 weeks, during which half had undertaken an intensive neurorehabilitation program that consisted of 2 sessions each day, 5 days per week for 3 weeks.

At the conclusion of the therapy, patients who had mild to severe depression showed a significant improvement in both fatigue and depression and tended to show better performance on the 6-minute walking test and MS walking scale compared to the controls.

“These data are consistent with the view that underlying depression may confound motor and fatigue measures and underline the importance to address psychological factors to enhance the positive outcome of rehabilitation treatment and its maintenance,” the investigators concluded.