Improving Cutaneous Sensation and Balance in People with Multiple Sclerosis
(note this study is being conducted in Amherst, MA - transportation to and from is free and can be arranged for you if you live within 50 miles of Amherst)
Who: Drs. Stephanie Jones and Richard Van Emmerik, members of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
What: Our current research study, funded by the National MS Society, aims to test insoles that can be worn in the shoes to improve sensation of the feet and balance for people with MS.
Why: Our research group aims to understand what contributes to balance difficulties in people with MS in order to develop treatments and aids that can improve or maintain balance and mobility.
How to participate: Men and women with any subtype of MS, between 21-65 years and who can walk independently are eligible. Participants visit the Lab at UMass Amherst on a single day for 3 hours and will be compensated $25. We can arrange and pay for transportation within a 50 mile radius of Amherst, MA.
When: We are currently recruiting participants until March 2015.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check our website: www.umass.edu/motorcontrol
Many individuals with MS report balance dysfunction as having a severe negative impact on their lives. One common complaint of those with MS is a loss of sensation in their extremities, which, if it occurs in the feet, may contribute significantly to balance problems. We are currently conducting a research study, funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, that has two parts. In Part One we will test skin sensation of people with and without MS in different areas of the feet to understand the effect of reduced foot sensation on standing balance function. Part Two of our study will take advantage of recent technological advances that can improve skin sensation by applying a vibration to the skin below the threshold of detection. This sensory stimulation method has been shown to restore some sensory loss and improve balance in individuals who have sensory loss in their feet. In Part Two we will test the balance function of people with and without MS when they are standing on vibrating devices embedded into the shoe soles. We expect that this study will provide information about how sensation of the feet during standing is related to balance ability, which areas of the foot are affected and may be important to balance and, most importantly, whether vibrating insoles can provide an aid to improve balance in those with MS. This study will set the stage for a larger study that will compare the effectiveness of sensory treatments to improve balance in people with MS. This larger study will have the goal of improving balance in a non-invasive, low-cost way to reduce disability and improve quality of life of those living with MS.
Highlighted Clinical Trial: Improving Cutaneous Sensation and Balance in People with Multiple Sclerosis
About Dr. Debbie
Deborah Backus, PT, PhD is Director of Multiple Sclerosis Research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Debbie received her B.S. in Physical Therapy in 1986, and her Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2004.