Effectiveness of Aquatic Exercises on Mobility Function and Quality of Life in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Aquatic exercises have been recommended for individuals with multiple sclerosis. Despite the growing practice of aquatic exercise and trend toward evidence-based practice, limited research has been conducted on the effects of aquatic exercises in individuals with multiple sclerosis.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 10-week aquatic training program on mobility function, strength, fatigue, and quality of life in individuals with multiple sclerosis.
This study was a single-blind, randomized controlled trial. The participants were twenty subjects with chronic multiple sclerosis recruited through a community-based support group. Participants were randomly assigned into exercise group (n=10) or control group (n=10). The training program for the exercise group consisted of a 10-week group aquatic exercises including strength, balance, walking, and aerobic training. Participants were assessed one week before and after participation in the study by a blind investigator. The outcome measures were self-paced Ten-Meters Walk Test (10MWT), Timed “Up & Go” test (TUG), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), grip strength measured by a handheld dynamometer, Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS), quality of life using the Short Form 36 (SF-36), and a satisfactory survey. An intention-to-treat analysis was used.
All subjects completed the study with no multiple sclerosis-related exacerbations reported. Baseline characteristics between the groups were similar for all variables (P>.05). Participants in the exercise program exhibited better overall scores on walking speed, balance, grip strength, fatigue, and quality of life than participants in the control group. The exercise group significantly improved (p < .05) compared to the control group for TUG, BBS, grip strength, MFIS, and SF-36. A majority of participants expressed excellent satisfaction with the program.
The results of this study suggest that aquatic training program may be an effective intervention strategy for improving mobility function and quality of life in individuals with multiple sclerosis.To our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial that examined the effects of aquatic exercises for individuals with multiple sclerosis. Our results suggest that a 10-week aquatic training program can improve balance, strength, fatigue, and quality of life in persons with multiple sclerosis. Aquatic training holds promise as an effective treatment strategy to minimize detrimental affect and maximize function in persons with multiple sclerosis.