PCORI has identified multiple sclerosis (MS) as an important research topic. Patients, clinicians, and others want to learn how different treatment strategies, aimed at changing specific symptoms or the overall course of MS, affect patients’ symptoms and quality of life. To address this issue, PCORI launched a funding initiative in 2015 on Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. This research project is one of the studies PCORI awarded as part this program.
COVID-19-Related Project Enhancement
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are highly susceptible to health risks associated with COVID-19. Because of this vulnerability, people living with MS may decrease their outdoor physical activity and avoid in-person rehabilitation sessions during the pandemic. This project’s enhancement will examine the effects of a complementary and alternative medicine intervention delivered remotely in real-time through a videoconferencing platform. Findings will be compared to the same intervention delivered in a clinic-based, in-person format. The study will evaluate and compare whether the remote intervention arm is non-inferior to the onsite intervention.
The outcomes of the study will allow the research team to swiftly build a telerehabilitation platform that could help in protecting patients with MS from COVID-19 exposure, while providing a quality rehabilitation program meeting their specific health and functional needs.
Enhancement Award Amount: $499,871
This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
About 400,000 Americans have MS, a condition that affects the central nervous system and can cause fatigue, numbness, and vision, bladder, and mobility problems. Exercise can help manage some of these symptoms. However, exercise programs are not available to many patients, particularly in rural areas. Offering exercise support over the Internet or telephone may help provide exercise services to people in rural areas. This study looks at how much benefit patients get from an exercise rehabilitation program delivered over the Internet or telephone, as compared to the same exercise program in a clinic.
Who can this research help?
Findings from this study can help healthcare staff decide how to provide exercise and rehabilitation services to patients with MS. This research can also help patients with MS who are deciding about exercise programs.
What is the research team doing?
Researchers are working with 820 patients with MS who get health care from 38 clinics across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. At half of these clinics, patients receive exercise and rehabilitation services in person. Patients at the other half of the clinics get a tablet computer that contains exercise and rehabilitation videos with instructions for use at home. These patients also get regular calls at home from the program to provide encouragement and to find out whether they have had any problems completing the exercise program.
The exercise programs last 12 weeks. Researchers follow up with patients 3, 6, and 12 months after the exercise program ends to compare how the clinic-based and home-based exercise rehabilitation programs affect:
- Quality of life
- Physical activity
Researchers are also measuring whether the home-based and clinic-based exercise programs work differently for patients of different ages and levels of disability.
Doctors, caregivers, and a group of patients who have MS provide advice on what the study should measure (such as patient pain and fatigue), what equipment patients with MS need in order to do the exercises, and how to motivate patients to exercise.
Research methods at a glance
A Telehealth-Based Exercise Option for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
James Rimmer, PhD speaks about his PCORI-funded study, which is testing the effectiveness of a home-based exercise plan for patients with multiple sclerosis who are unable to exercise in the community against a traditional, clinic-based exercise plan.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Other Clinical Interventions
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions
Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis
- No information provided by awardee.
Other Stakeholder Partners
- No information provided by awardee.