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Increasing Physical Activity and Participation in People With Multiple Sclerosis: A Review

      Abstract

      Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive disease of the central nervous system (CNS) affecting >2.5 million people worldwide. Damage to neurons in the CNS causes various sensorimotor and cognitive symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, spasticity, memory deficits, and impairment of mobility. Until the late 1990s, it was believed that symptoms of MS would be worsened with physical exertion and people with MS were encouraged to limit physical activity and exertion. Not only has emerging evidence suggested that physical activity, including exercise, is safe for people with MS, there is also evidence that at least some of the disability that occurs after MS is due to secondary deconditioning from the sedentary lifestyle adopted because of the symptoms of MS, not just CNS damage alone. Therefore, not only is physical activity safe, it is also required for maintaining function and health in people with MS. The purpose of this article is to review the unique physical and social barriers to physical activity in people with MS, including those with moderate to severe disability who use a wheelchair or scooter for mobility. We will discuss how existing guidelines for physical activity may not meet the needs of people with MS and present evidence-based considerations for promoting physical activity in people with MS. Ultimately, the goal is to overcome the barriers to physical activity and improve health, participation, and quality of life in people with MS.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      MS (multiple sclerosis)
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