The purpose of this study is to determine whether a training program in the use of
ambulatory assistive devices (such as canes, walkers, etc) can reduce falls and increase
functional mobility and neural connectivity in people with Multiple Sclerosis.
40 people with Multiple Sclerosis, who routinely use ambulatory assistive devices and have
fallen at least once in the past year, will be randomized into two groups. One group will
receive a 6-week training program in the use of their assistive device; the other group will
be wait-listed, and may choose to receive the training after their participation in the
study is completed. All participants will receive mobility assessments at baseline, 6-8
weeks later, and 3 months after that. All participants will record their falls on falls
calendars. Participants in the training group will receive MRI scans to assess neural
connectivity at baseline and after completion of the training program.
The purpose of the study is to determine whether participation in the training program
reduces falls and increases functional mobility when compared to the wait-listed group, and
also to determine whether any change in neural connectivity, as assessed by MRI scans, is
seen in those who participate in the training.
- Multiple Sclerosis of any type,
- self-reported history of at least 1 fall in the previous year,
- able to walk at least 25 feet with or without an assistive device,
- clinically stable Multiple Sclerosis (no relapse in 30 days prior to enrollment),
- intermittent or constant unilateral or bilateral assistance required to walk,
- right-handed, willingness to remain consistent with medication use and level of
physical activity for the duration of the study.
- serious psychiatric or medical conditions that would preclude reliable participation
in the study,
- dementia (MMSE <24),
- inability to follow directions in English,
- significant upper extremity tremor or weakness,
- more than 1 hour of assistive device training within the previous 3 years,
- any exclusions to receiving MRI scans (implanted devices, anxiety, claustrophobia,
body weight over 350 lbs).