Rehabilitation Research - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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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.

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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:

  • new strategies for balance control
  • methods for improving lung function
  • cycling regimens to reduce spasticity
  • exercise regimens for advanced MS
  • home-based exercise to improve mobility and cardiovascular health
  • new strategies for improving cognitive function (read more)

We are making progress - here are some recent reports:
 

Looking at MS and balance in a new way: An interview with Brett Fling, PhD, whose postdoctoral research fellowship focuses on studying MS and balance with Fay Horak, PhD, an internationally renowned expert in how the brain controls balance, at Oregon Health and Science University. Read more
 
Weight training improves walking and quality of life: Women participating in a small study of progressive resistance (weight) training improved significantly in walking, and reported improvements in quality of life as well. The study, funded by the National MS Society, used standard measures to evaluate the effects of the program, along with in-depth interviews of the participants to determine the full effects on quality of life. 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

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