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Clinical Pilates Can Improve Cognition and Muscle Strength in MS Patients

June 20, 2016

Clinical pilates has many benefits for multiple sclerosis patients as it can not only help them physically but it can also improve their cognitive skills as well as their quality of life. A recent study conducted by researchers in Turkey at Izmir University compared clinical pilates to traditional exercise and found that other forms of exercise also offer important benefits. Therefore, more research will need to be done in order to determine if clinical pilates is the superior type of exercise for MS patients.

While there has been plenty of research done that shows clinical pilates improves flexibility, balance and muscle endurance, few studies have examined the effect of the exercise on those with MS.

20 MS patients, 65 percent of whom were women, were enrolled in the study “Improvements in cognition, quality of life and physical performance with clinical Pilates in multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial.” Participants were randomized into a pilates group (11 people) and a control group (9 people) which focused on balance, strength and coordination.

Both groups mainly consisted of patients that were in their late 40s and had a disability score of around 3 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and had the disease for an average of 14-15 years. Each session was organized weekly; 45-60 minutes long for eight weeks.

Before the sessions began, the intervention group patients were taught very important elements in clinical pilates and during the sessions they were guided by an experienced therapist. Before and after the training period, patients also underwent an examination that observed physical abilities and overall function as well as fatigue, cognition, depression and quality of life.

While results showed that both groups improved on all physical performance tests, those in the pilates group had displayed better balance, less fatigue and improved scores on a cognitive test. Those that engaged in traditional exercise on the other hand had better arm function and improved performance on the timed ‘Up and Go’.

The researchers performed a difference analysis since the results had been so similar. This found that cognition and quality of life were better in the pilates group. Researchers do believe that a larger study with longer duration must be don’t in order to get a bigger picture of how pilates compares to other forms of exercises.