Text Size: a  |   a 

Study Finds Exercise is Beneficial for Children with MS

August 14, 2015

According to a new study that was published in the Journal Neurology, children with multiple sclerosis who engaged in regular exercise were discovered to have a milder form of the disease. The study also found that these children also showed fewer symptoms related to MS.

Children with MS generally suffer a more severe course of disease than adult patients, as they generally are prone to developing more relapses leading to exceeding episodes of weakness. This in particular is what makes the subject is so fascinating for neurologists. Any form of discovery that can improve the quality of life in child MS patients will stand as a huge step forward.

The autoimmune disease is rare in children compared to adults-they only make up about 2 to 10 percent of all MS patients, as it usually develops between adults ages 20-40. The disease presents itself with episodes of visual loss, fatigue, tingling and weakness.

120 patients from 5 to 18 years old were studied, 31 of these children were questioned about tiredness, depression, and how often they exercised. 79 others were then evaluated that had experienced a single inflammatory neurological episode. 60 of those 79 patients went through MRI brain scans to then evaluate their brain volume and characterize their specified MS lesions.

This study concluded that 45% of those children with MS reported participating in any strenuous physical activity and 85% of the other children reported taking part in vigorous physical exercise. Those children with MS that participated in physical activity were more apt to have lower density brain lesions—a marker for disease activity—than the children who did not engage in physical activity. The study also noted that in comparison to children without MS, children with MS have greater depressive symptoms and fatigue.

The overall message here that the study wishes to convey is that children who engaged in physical activity had fewer relapses and lower lesion volumes, which ultimately lowered the burden of disease on these children. However, the study did not focus on a cause and effect relationship—it only revealed the association level between physical activity and the severity of the disease. Still this leaves a strong posibility that the two are closely related.