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
The Society funds rehabilitation research testing fsolutions so that people with MS can live their best lives every day:
- testing whether increasing physical activity through the use of simple accelerometers can improve cognitive functioning in MS
- testing a method of walking to a beat or music to see if it improves walking in people with MS
- Testing the efficacy of a unique group-based therapy for improving emotion regulation in people with MS and their carepartners
We are making progress - here are some recent reports:
- To provide the MS community with evidence-based guidance for promoting exercise and lifestyle physical activity, the National MS Society convened a group of experts in the fields of MS, exercise, rehabilitation, and physical activity to review available studies and develop recommendations for healthcare providers who can advise individuals with MS at all disability levels.
- Researchers at the University of North Carolina and collaborators reported that balance problems that were not detected in people with MS while walking were evident using virtual reality-based testing. The investigators are testing and developing this method further, in the hopes that it may ultimately be used to detect balance and address problems in people living with MS before falls occur
- Researchers funded by the National MS Society reported significant reductions in insomnia symptoms among 33 people with MS who participated in a study comparing cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia to two other programs.