The specific exercise therapy for MS that outperforms others

Published: 31 August 2022

A new review of published studies has found aquatic exercise therapy has great benefits for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), including improving balance and easing fatigue, all without side effects.

Aquatic therapy is exercise that’s done standing submerged in water, which has some benefits for people with mobility issues. Buoyancy in the water can help people with MS stay supported, and it can help relieve joint stress.

Exercising in the water can also help keep people cool, which might avoid the temporary worsening of MS symptoms caused by a rise in body temperature.

For this review and meta-analysis, data from 794 patients was looked at. Researchers noted that scores in the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) improved significantly in patients who had aquatic therapy compared to those receiving conventional occupational therapy.

The Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (MFIS) scores, which assesses fatigue in three areas – cognitive, physical, and psychosocial – suggested aquatic therapy boosted all three and outperformed conventional occupational therapy.

People’s Berg Balance Scale (BBS) scores also improved significantly with aquatic therapy when compared with conventional therapies. “We found that aquatic therapy positively affects fatigue in patients with MS, which has important implications as fatigue is one of the main symptoms of MS and decreases the quality of life in these patients,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers did note that more research is needed as the studies analysed were relatively small.