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The safety of exercise training in multiple sclerosis: A systematic review

Lara A. Pilutti, Matthew E. Platta, Robert W. Motl, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung

Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Available online 15 May 2014

There are many reviews documenting the benefits of exercise training among persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). To date, we are unaware of a review that summarizes the risks of relapse and other adverse events (AEs) associated with exercise training, yet this is critical for informing decisions and recommendations regarding the safety of this behavior. We conducted a systematic review of relapse and other AEs reported in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of exercise training in MS. We searched electronic databases for RCTs of exercise training in MS. We calculated the rate of relapse and AEs, and the relative risk of relapse and AEs for exercise training versus control. Twenty-six studies were reviewed that included 1295 participants. We determined that the rate of relapse was 6.3% and 4.6% for control and exercise, respectively. The rate of AEs was 1.2% and 2.0% for control and exercise, respectively. The relative risk of relapse for exercise training was 0.73, whereas the relative risk of AE for exercise training was 1.67. Exercise training was not associated with an increased risk of relapse, and risk of AEs was not higher than in healthy populations. This evidence should alleviate uncertainty regarding the safety of exercise training in MS.

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About the Editors

  • Prof Timothy Vartanian

    Timothy Vartanian, Professor at the Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Department of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell...
  • Dr Claire S. Riley

    Claire S. Riley, MD is an assistant attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology in the Neurological Institute, Columbia University,...
  • Dr Rebecca Farber

    Rebecca Farber, MD is an attending neurologist and assistant professor of neurology at the Neurological Institute, Columbia University, in New...

This online Resource Centre has been made possible by a donation from EMD Serono, Inc., a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Note that EMD Serono, Inc., has no editorial control or influence over the content of this Resource Centre. The Resource Centre and all content therein are subject to an independent editorial review.

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supports promising translational research projects by academic researchers to improve understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) for the ultimate benefit of patients.  For full information and application details, please click here

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