Group exercise proves its worth in Multiple Sclerosis

Exercise groups for people with  multiple sclerosis (MS) are being run across Northern Ireland, thanks to a physiotherapy-led project.

Neuro-physiotherapist Dawn Harrison, who works for the MS Society Northern Ireland, set up the classes in partnership with Sport Northern Ireland.

The weekly classes cater for all levels of mobility with a range of both standing and seated circuit exercises.

‘One of the main reasons for organising these classes is that members were commenting that they would participate in a period of physiotherapy treatment but then had no way to maintain the gains and it was difficult to motivate yourself to exercise at home,’ said Miss Harrison.

‘Accessing classes at local leisure centres can be difficult because the classes are too aerobic, don’t offer enough flexibility for people with a fluctuating condition or involve getting on and off the floor, which is difficult for some people with MS.’

Early data from outcome measures indicate that the classes have helped participants to increase their walking speeds and functional reach.

Meanwhile, a study by researchers at the University of Glasgow and NHS Ayrshire and Arran has shown that group exercise can help in the management of MS symptoms.

The research revealed that people with MS who participated in a 12-week group therapeutic exercise programme enjoyed improved dynamic balance, leg strength, activity levels and self-perception of their ability to maintain their balance.

The research paper is available at:

Robert Millett

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