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Small Study Shows Benefits of Treadmill Training in Cooled Room in People with MS-Related Walking Impairment

February 3, 2020

Harness-supported, vigorous treadmill training in a cooled room improved walking, fatigue, fitness and quality-of-life in a small University of Newfoundland study involving eight people with MS who used assistive devices for walking. Larger studies are necessary to confirm the safety and effectiveness of this strategy for improving symptoms in people with mobility impairments.
  • The benefits of this training were maintained after three months in 7 of the participants. Those whose fitness improved after training showed increases in a protein involved in nerve protection (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and decreases in an immune messenger protein linked to inflammation (interleukin-6).
  • Training sessions lasted up to 40 minutes, and occurred three times a week for 10 weeks in a room that was cooled to 16°C (61°F) to counteract symptoms that can arise with increased body heat. Intensity and speed were gradually increased, as tolerated.  Manual support was provided to individuals with severe walking impairments as required. Learn more about strategies to improve a workout with MS.
  • A larger study in 70 people with MS is planned, with funding from the MS Society of Canada. This study will compare vigorous versus low intensity treadmill training in a cooled room, and is measuring effects primarily on walking speed, but also on other factors, such as depression, cognition, and imaging measures of brain repair. 
"Vigorous cool room treadmill training to improve walking ability in people with multiple sclerosis who use ambulatory assistive devices: a feasibility study" is published by Drs. Augustine Devasahayam,  Michelle Ploughman, and colleagues in BMC Neurology.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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