Pilates and MS

Guclu-Gunduz A, Citaker S, Irkec C, Nazliel B, Batur-Caglayan HZ. The effects of pilates on balance, mobility and strength in patients with multiple sclerosis.NeuroRehabilitation. 2013  [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: Although there are evidences as to Pilates developing dynamic balance, muscle strength and flexibility in healthy people, evidences related to its effects on Multiple Sclerosis patients are insufficient. Objectives: The aims of this study were to investigate the effects of Pilates on balance, mobility, and strength in ambulatory patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
METHODS: Twenty six patients were divided into two groups as experimental (n = 18) and control (n = 8) groups for an 8-week treatment program. The experimental group underwent Pilates and the control group did abdominal breathing and active extremity exercises at home. Balance and mobility were measured with Berg Balance Scale and Timed up and go test, upper and lower muscle strength with hand-held dynamometer. Confidence in balance skills while performing daily activities was evaluated with Activities Specific Balance Confidence Scale.
RESULTS:Improvements were observed in balance, mobility, and upper and lower extremity muscle strength in the Pilates group (p < 0.05). No significant differences in any outcome measures were observed in the control group (p > 0.05).
DISCUSSION AND SUMMARY/CONCLUSION: Due to its structure which is made up of balance and strengthening exercises, Pilates training may develop balance, mobility and muscle strength of MS patients. For this reason, we think that, Pilates exercises which are appropriate for the disability level of the patient may be suggested.

van der Linden ML, Bulley C, Geneen LJ, Hooper JE, Cowan P, Mercer TH.Pilates for people with multiple sclerosis who use a wheelchair: feasibility, efficacy and participant experiences.
Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Aug 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Purpose: This mixed methods study aimed to explore the feasibility, efficacy and the participants’ experiences of a Pilates programme for people with Multiple Sclerosis (pwMS) who use a wheelchair. Method: Fifteen pwMS took part in the 12-week Pilates programme. At baseline and after 6 and 12 weeks of the programme, sitting stability, measured as maximum progression of the Centre of Pressure when leaning sideways (COPmax), posture, pain on a Visual Analogue Scale, function, fatigue and the impact of MS (MSIS29) were assessed. Ten participants took part in two focus groups within six weeks of the completion of the programme. Results: Significant improvements at the 12-week assessment were found in COPmax (p = 0.046), sitting posture (p = 0.004), pain in the shoulders (p = 0.005) and back (p = 0.005) and MSIS29 (p = 0.006). The majority of participants described various physical, functional, psychological and social benefits from participation that reflected increased confidence in activities of daily living. Enjoyment of the classes was expressed by all, and most wished to continue participation. 

Conclusions: Pilates appears to be efficacious in improving sitting stability and posture and decreasing pain and was also well tolerated by wheelchair users with MS. Further mixed methods studies are warranted. 
Implications for Rehabilitation Group-based core stability exercise or Pilates for people with MS who use wheelchair is a feasible and safe way of exercising for this patient group. Pilates exercises for people moderately to severely affected by MS resulted in a decrease in back and shoulder pain and improvement in sitting balance. 

So here we have two small underpowered studies that indicate that pilates may be an option for benefit, so if you need some evidence to support this form of exercise then here it is.  

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    • Funny you should say that – in my local area (Berkshire UK) our disabled sports facility has a Pilates for PwMS class on Monday lunchtimes. Sadly I have a work commitment at that time so can't make it. I have recently contacted a local Pilates teacher who will do half hour sessions on a one to one basis with me.

    • Thanks, I will try. Our Physios wnt us to go to our local Leisure centres. I'm struggling to get centre to do anything more than the bare minimum. I'm going to fight on. I used to do yoga at my local cancer centre by a trained Phsiotherapist, but I had to give up due to extreme pain not connected to my MS.

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