What Eye Exercises Can Do for Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Anyone with multiple sclerosis knows that symptoms can be intense, and many would do anything to alleviate them. Now, researchers have found an unexpected way to ease these symptoms - eye and balance exercises.
A small study was conducted that showed that those who have multiple sclerosis and engage in certain exercises that focus on balance and eye movement feel steadier on their feet. As a result, their suffering from dizziness and fatigue is significantly alleviated, especially in comparison to those who do not practice these exercises.
Because multiple sclerosis affects the nervous system, fatigue, pain, and vision loss often occur. Impaired coordination and decreased motor skills often follow.
The researchers included 88 adults with multiple sclerosis in their study, who were all capable of walking 100 meters. This included those who needed to be assisted by a cane. Half of the participants were randomly selected to engage in an exercise program that the research team would oversee. The rest of the group were put on a waiting list for the program.
In the very beginning of the study, the research team assessed the participants' balance via a computer-based test. The range of results that are deemed healthy for those who do not have balance issues is between 90 and 100, but none of the participants initially displayed such results, or even anything close to it.
After six weeks of the study, the participants took the test once again. This time around, the scores rose - particularly from the group that was part of the exercise program. Initially both of the groups displayed scores that were near 62 to 63, but those who had been engaging in the targeted exercise saw their results rise to around 73, while the other group had a smaller increase to around 66.
Jeffrey Herbert of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver is the lead author of the study, and he explains his thoughts on these results, "it is possible that disability due to MS can be improved or the accumulation of disability lessened by participation in exercise such as (this) program; however, additional research in this area is needed. The ... program is most generalizable to ambulatory patients with MS who have some limitations related to balance and fatigue."
More about the exercise routine
For those who were part of the exercise group, the activities consisted of supervised exercises that would occur two times per week. However, that was not all. They were also instructed to work out at home to supplement their supervised exercises, and were given specific instructions on how to do so.
After the first six weeks, the group was then only supervised once a week for exercises, but were supposed to maintain their daily at-home workout regimen.
The exercises included a range of activities, but were largely focused on balance. For example, some included walking while balancing on various surfaces. Then these exercises would add intensity by adding head movements and alternating whether the eyes were open or closed during the process. There were also certain exercises that involved eye movements that were supposed to assist in balance and something called "visual stability."
Read on to learn more about the results and what this means for people living with multiple sclerosis.