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Physical fitness associated with improved cognition in multiple sclerosis

The benefits of exercise and being physically fit is what many people strive for.  However, a recent study added a new dimension to what exercise can do to enhance health.  In other words, exercise did more than keep a body fit.  It also made study participants think better.  You may ask, why is this new information important?  

 
Cognitive impairment is one of multiple scleroris (MS) ’s most disabling features and it can affect between 22% to 60% of people living with the disease.  Cognitive deficits may include problems with: slower information processing speed; memory impairment; difficulty with new learning and executive functioning.  Historically, medical and rehabilitation approaches to the problem have been inconsistent in improving cognition.
 
The new frontier of exercise for improved cognition provides hope. This study’s objective was to determine if there was an association between improvements in objective measures of physical fitness and performance on cognitive tests.
 
Participants were people with MS who participated in a telephone based health promotion intervention, chose to work on exercise, and who completed pre and post intervention assessments. Participants were then measured for strength, aerobic fitness, and cognition at baseline and 12 weeks later.
 
After controlling for variables such as age, gender, MS disease activity, MS type, etc. there was evidence suggesting that cognitive functioning changed over time based on level of fitness. Participants in the physically improved group showed improved performance on measures of executive functioning after 12 weeks of exercise.  The results of this study add support to the hypothesis that change in fitness is associated with improved executive functioning in people with MS. The desired outcomes are that improved cognition correlates with better quality of life, activities of daily living, vocational endeavors, and rehabilitation measures.
 
Where do we go from here? Since less is known about exercise training and cognition in MS (compared to studies demonstrating aerobic and strength training significantly improving cognitive functioning in older adults and people with mild cognitive impairment), we need more studies to examine this relationship in the MS population. 

Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) braces improve gait

Up to 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have problems with walking.  The combination of weakness of the muscles of the legs, spasticity, and core weakness contributes to this.  Often, it will present with problems lifting the foot, referred to as foot drop.  This is due to weakness of the muscles that lift the foot (dorsiflexors) and spasticity or over power of the muscles that push the foot down (plantar flexors).  Traditional ankle foot orthosis have advantages over functional electrical stimulation (FES) braces in that they help with ankle stability and reduce spasticity.  Advantages of FES braces include some evidence that there may be stimulation of the cortical neurons above the stimulation area, they are less cumbersome, and more discrete to wear.

A recent study looked at ..

FDA declines approval of Lemtrada for the treatment of MS

On December 30, 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration declined to approve the use of alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The FDA stated that the manufacturer of Lemtrada “has not submitted evidence from adequate and well-controlled studies that demonstrate the benefits of Lemtrada outweigh its serious adverse effects.” This was a surprising decision to some, as only a month earlier an advisory panel of experts convened by the FDA, while raising some objections, voted to have this medicine approved. The manufacturer of Lemtrada, Genzyme, a Sanofi company, intends to appeal this decision.
 
In response, a number of MS organizations and experts have voiced their concerns that with this step, MS patients are left without a potential choice in therapy. This decision is particularly difficult for ...

FDA approves 40 mg/mL Copaxone for 3 times a week

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the three-times-a-week COPAXONE® 40mg/mL, a new dose of COPAXONE® on Jan 28, 2014.  This new formulation will allow for a less frequent dosing regimen administered by injection for patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition to the newly approved dose, daily COPAXONE® 20 mg/mL will continue to be available.

The FDA approval is based on data from ...

Constraint induced movement therapy in MS may be equally effective as in stroke

Constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT), formerly called “forced use” is a treatment for impaired function of an upper extremity. It has been established as an effective evidence-based form of treatment for rehab of impaired upper extremity (UE) function for post stroke hemiparesis. The core features of CIMT are massed practice (high repetitions) and to overcome learned non-use thru behavior modification. The typical training protocol involves a 2 week period of physical restraint of the less-involved side (90% of the waking hours) and intensive training (3 hours/day) focused on movement patterns of the involved hand and arm. The physical restraint is usually a padded mitt, sling or glove thereby restricting stronger arm use.
At a recent ECTRIMS/RIMS meeting, this form of therapy was presented as being equally effective in

Research and progress for progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

I am delighted to write the blog over the Progressive MS session that was given at ECTRIMS 2013.  Much emphasis has been given to the need for more research in the fields of progressive MS.  The majority of MS patients fit into this broad category: primary progressive MS, secondary progressive MS, and progressive relapsing forms of the disease.  During a session devoted to progressive MS, leaders in the field discussed several initiatives underway to address the challenges presented by these forms of the disease. 

Rehabilitation is a mainstay and key to improving the lives of patients with progressive MS. Many patients describe their progression in terms of mobility decline, which is a major target of improvement in rehabilitation programs.

The first session was devoted to confusion surrounding the definition of “progression in MS.”  We use ...

Testosterone is associated with worse disease severity in men with early relapsing onset multiple sclerosis

MS and many other autoimmune diseases are less common in men than in women. This is especially true during reproductive years. Sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, may be responsible for the difference. It is thought that men with multiple sclerosis may have lower testosterone levels than healthy controls.

Dr. Bove and his group assessed the prevalence and clinical associations of hypogonadism in men with recent onset relapsing multiple sclerosis.  Male subjects from the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigations of MS at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (CLIMB) cohort were included. Hormonal measures included testosterone, the testosterone: estradiol ratio, leutinizing hormone (LH), and free testosterone. Clinical outcomes were collected every 6 months for Expanded Disease Severity Scale (EDSS), and annually for Symbol Digit Modalities test (SDMT).

The analysis included 96 men with a mean age of 40 years, disease duration of 4.6 years; 71% subjects were untreated at baseline. Of these men, 39% were ...

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