Walking endurance and perceived symptom severity after a single maximal exercise test in persons with mild disability because of multiple sclerosis


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Abstract

People with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) are less physically active compared with the general population. This might also be because of the perception of temporary worsening of symptoms during physical activity. Forty-two PwMS with a mild level of disability underwent a maximal exercise test on a bicycle ergometer. Fifteen minutes before and 15 and 75 min after the maximal exercise test, the 6-minute walking test was conducted and the rate of perceived exertion was recorded. Twice before and three times after the maximal exercise test, participants rated the symptom inventory, including symptom domains of general fatigue, muscle fatigue, balance, gait pattern, muscle weakness, spasticity, pain, sensory disturbance, dizziness, and visual impairment. The visual analogue scale was used to rate the perceived symptoms from 0 (no intensity) to 10 (maximal intensity). The 6-minute walking test distance increased significantly over time, whereas the rate of perceived exertion increased temporarily after the maximal exercise test. Immediately after the maximal exercise test, significant temporary increases were found in balance, gait pattern, muscle weakness, and visual impairment. General and muscle fatigue were elevated, compared with the baseline, till 15 and 75 min after the maximal exercise test, respectively. A short-term impact of a single maximal exercise test was considered as the temporary worsening of perceived symptoms, especially (muscle) fatigue and the gait pattern, in PwMS with a mild level of disability. However, a recovery was observed after 75 min. Walking endurance was not affected by the maximal exercise test.

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