Driving a focus on rehabilitation research
We choose investments with the best return in changing lives. Rehabilitation can help people with MS to achieve their physical, psychological, social and vocational potential. But to convince doctors and insurers that rehabilitation really does help, we need the kind of evidence that can only come from carefully designed and conducted scientific studies.
Despite the Society’s commitment to fund rehabilitation research, as recently as 2005 we weren’t getting enough high quality proposals to review. So the Society engaged some of the best and brightest in the rehab field at a workshop cosponsored by the NIH’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the MS Society of Canada, and the University of Washington MS Rehabilitation Research & Training Center. This talented group of MS specialists and rehabilitation experts focused on what was standing in the way of rigorous rehabilitation research and how to make the obstacles disappear.
The workshop spurred the Society to establish a new fellowship program to recruit and train talented clinician-scientists in MS rehabilitation research
. The fellowship program is “mentor-based,” meaning that we fund the mentor knowing that the mentor—the expert—will be most able to find student scientists with the greatest potential to be rehab researchers.
We are finding solutions that are changing lives
Now we are funding more than 30 projects in the area of rehabilitation research, testing these solutions and others so that people with MS can live their best life every day:
- a training program to improve the speed of processing information
- balance training to improve stability in people with MS
- an intervention to help people enhance their ability for managing MS
- using video chatting to increase exercise in people with MS and decrease symptoms
- an exercise program to reduce the risk of falling in older people with MS
- new strategies for improving cognitive function (read more)
We are making progress - here are some recent reports:
Virtual reality for balance
Compared with a standard exercise program, a team found significant improvements in balance in a group using virtual reality. The system is not widely available, but research is advancing to give people with MS better access to such cutting-edge approaches. Read more
Resistance bands for strength
Preliminary results from an ongoing study show how an exercise training program using only elastic resistance bands can improve strength significantly in people with MS. Read more
Balance/eye movement training improves fatigue:
A 6-week balance and eye movement-focused exercise program improved balance, reduced fatigue, and reduced disability due to dizziness or disequilibrium in a group of people with MS, lasting for at least 4 weeks following supervised training. The study was partially funded by a pilot research grant from the Society. Read more