Health Futures Institute
 

Tele-rehab for people living with multiple sclerosis

Students and researchers from Murdoch’s Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics are investigating ways to increase the number of Australians with multiple sclerosis (MS) participating in exercise programs and improve the telehealth services and programs delivered to the MS community.

 

Areas of research

Molecular Medicine, Multiple Sclerosis

Technology utilised

N/A

Lead researchers

Dr Yvonne Learmonth

 

What was the need for this project?

Over 25,000 Australians are living with MS, a chronic and debilitating disease affecting the central nervous system. Exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate symptoms of MS like mobility impairment, fatigue and depression.

However, few people are participating in the recommended type and amount of aerobic and resistance exercise needed to achieve the benefits. This may be due to a lack of opportunity, support or access to knowledgeable healthcare providers.

 

How the project was completed

The first phase of the study, led by Dr Yvonne Learmonth, focused on interviewing people with MS, carers and healthcare providers to better understand their views on the accessibility and suitability of exercise programs for rural Australians living with MS. The initial findings supported the need for developing a home-based rehabilitation program for individuals with MS and increasing accessibility.

The team are now trialling Project GEMS+ (Guidelines for Exercise in MS), a telehealth home-based exercise program using MS physical exercise guidelines and theories of behaviour change to help people understand why exercise is good for them.

 

Results and achievements for this project

Over 70 participants nationwide have taken part in Project GEMS+ to date. The randomised control trial includes one group continue their usual behaviour. The other group receives the tele-health delivered exercise program, which included exercise equipment, access to an online exercise plan, video coaching calls and educational newsletters to assist with program adherence.

The first wave of Project GEMS+ participants that received intervention strategies showed an increase in self-reported exercise behaviour, and overall compliance with the program. Dr Learmonth and the team are now observing a second wave of MS patients. The team are developing the program for adoption by health professionals across Australia to trial the GEMS+ program as part of regular clinical practice.

 

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