Telerehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis: Results of a Randomized Feasibility and Efficacy Pilot Study
A prospective, randomized, three-arm, evaluator blinded study to demonstrate the feasibility of a telerehabilitation (TR) program in individuals with ambulatory deficits secondary to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and evaluate its efficacy when compared to conventional on-site physical therapy (PT) was completed. Thirty participants were evaluated at baseline and randomized to one of three groups with intervention lasting 8 weeks: Group 1 (control)- customized unsupervised home-based exercise program (HEP) 5 days a week; Group 2 (TR)- remote PT supervised via audio/visual real-time telecommunication twice weekly; Group 3 (PT)- in-person PT at the medical facility twice weekly. Outcomes included patient reported outcomes (PROs) obtained through questionnaires, and measurements of gait and balance performed with bedside tests and a computerized system. Functional gait assessment improved from baseline in all three groups. There were no significant differences between the TR and the conventional PT groups for a variety of outcome measures. TR is a feasible method to perform PT in persons with MS and has comparable efficacy to conventional in-person PT as measured by patient reported outcomes and objective outcomes of gait and balance.
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