This year’s annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers in Nashville, Tenn., will feature an intense focus on rehabilitation in MS. The topic is often a priority for patients but not necessarily at top of mind for health care providers, said rehabilitation therapist Patty Bobryk, secretary of the CMSC.
“This year, some of the Rehab Track topics include addressing respiratory issues in MS, exploring the impact of visual impairments on rehab, and recommending the proper orthotics, as well as discussing treatments that focus on mind-body understanding,” said Ms. Bobryk of MS Comprehensive Care Center of Central Florida, Orlando. She serves as cochair of the International Organization of MS Rehabilitation Therapists.
Rehabilitation in MS is a controversial topic. Two years ago, the CMSC endorsed a statement criticizing a 2015 report by the American Academy of Neurology that found limited evidence supporting MS rehabilitation (). The statement, also supported by the International Organization of MS Nurses and International Organization of MS Rehabilitation Therapists, declared that the AAN report “presents an incomplete review of the evidence published” ( ).
However, the statement acknowledged that “larger studies with better research methodologies and higher-quality evidence are needed in rehabilitation.”
More recently, a 2017 systematic review of systematic reviews of rehabilitation in MS found that “strong” evidence only exists “for physical therapy for improved activity and participation, and for exercise-based educational programs for the reduction of patient-reported fatigue.” The review of reviews also found there’s “ ‘moderate’ evidence for multidisciplinary rehabilitation for longer-term gains at the levels of activity (disability) and participation, for cognitive-behavior therapy for the treatment of depression, and for information-provision interventions for improved patient knowledge” ().
In an interview, Ms. Bobryk said the MS rehabilitation community is evolving toward “a better understanding of neuroplasticity and the impact that rehab can have on maintaining and improving functional skills.”
In addition, she said, “more emphasis is being placed on early intervention and preventing the secondary effects of the disease versus providing only compensatory strategies.”