Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged. MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. In MS, the body’s own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals. In a study that appeared in Multiple Sclerosis, Pilates-based mat exercise showed promise as a way of helping people with MS improve both balance and stability. Impaired balance and loss of confidence with walking are common consequences of MS. Researchers conducted a series of case studies to evaluate the influence of Pilates-based mat exercise on balance and gait in ambulant people with MS.
Working with eight subjects, researchers collected data from a variety of functional activities. Baseline assessments were used instead of a control group. Participants did up to 10 Pilates-based mat exercises with a therapist during two 30-minute sessions per week for 8 weeks, plus a 15-minute individually designed daily home routine.
In evaluating the data, researchers found improvements in both balance and stability for five of the eight subjects. As a group, participants showed significant improvements in all functional activities used in the baseline assessment. However, no improvements continued after the intervention stopped, and some subjects experienced deterioration.
Lead study author stated that this study provided preliminary evidence that Pilates-based exercise can benefit people with MS. However, not everyone improves, and this study does not indicate who is most likely to benefit. With further research, the aim is to provide more robust evidence regarding effectiveness.
Resource: IDEA Fitness Journal