Can task-oriented exercise play a role in the rehabilitation of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS)? A recent study featured at the 2021 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting aimed to dive into this question. Find out about this study's results with this recap of the poster titled, "A Scoping Review of Task-Oriented Exercise Effects on Motor Function in People with Multiple Sclerosis."
Exercise has been linked to improved cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness for patients with muscle sclerosis (MS). Specifically, taking a task-oriented approach to exercise may lead to improved functioning in these patients, but many researchers are still unsure whether it’s superior to other types of exercise.
To better understand how we can incorporate that into our treatment approach, a recent study took a look at the impact of taking a task-oriented approach to exercise for rehabilitation and worked to distinguish the effects of general exercise and task-oriented exercise.
Researchers began by defining a task-oriented approach to exercise, which involves repetitive, goal-directed task practices that target specific functional deficits with the goal of enhancing motor function for patients with MS. Then, they defined eligibility criteria for review, including studies published from 2000 to 2021 that evaluated the impact of exercise on upper- and/or lower-extremity motor function in patients with MS.
Exercise interventions measured within these studies included elements of cardiorespiratory, resistance, neuromotor, task-oriented training, and various combinations. Specifically, task-oriented exercise interventions focused on walking, balance, agility, functional tasks, and hand dexterity (grasping, reaching, pinching targets, and other bimanual tasks).
Of the 37 studies identified, 32 met the above criteria. Eight of them included task-oriented elements that were performed in a circuit format, with four focused on the upper extremity, one on the lower extremity, and three on both the upper and lower extremity.
According to the results, task-oriented exercises enhanced walking, balancing, and arm and hand functioning, but little evidence supported the maintenance of functional gains. As of right now, it’s not possible to determine if task-oriented exercise effects on motor function differ from those caused by other types of exercise.
These results indicate a need to develop and compare targeted exercise intervention strategies to better determine which are most effective for improving motor function in patients with MS.