Tele-Rehabilitation for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis and Mobility Disorders—A Feasibility and Pilot Study
Keywords:Multiple Sclerosis, Physical Therapy, Telehealth, Tele-Rehab, Tele-Rehabilitation
Objective: To determine the feasibility of conducting an 8-week physical therapist (PT)-guided tele-rehabilitation (TR) program for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and mobility deficits.
Design, setting, and participants: This feasibility study had a pre–post-intervention, non-randomized design. Nine subjects with a confirmed diagnosis of MS without a clinical exacerbation in the last year were selected from the MS Center of Excellence at UF Health Jacksonville (UFHJ). Inclusion criteria included demonstrated mobility deficits on initial examination, basic computer competency, and a home with high-speed internet connection. Examinations were performed face-to-face, pre–post-intervention in the Neurology Research Clinic at UFHJ. TR was delivered to the patient’s homes in Florida and South Georgia.
Intervention: An informed consent was obtained prior to initial examination. Self-reported measures included quality of life (QOL) and fatigue. Mobility measures included timed 10-m walk, five times sit to stand, and Berg balance scale. Following inclusion, home safety was evaluated and computer equipment was installed. TR intervention utilized the Jintronix® web-based platform system with a kinetic camera that demonstrated selected exercises by an avatar, allowing for real-time feedback on the quality of performance as well as tracking of adherence. The individualized exercises were assigned by the evaluating PT based on the initial assessment. Subjects participated in weekly TR visits with the prescribing PT to further monitor and adjust the therapy program.
Main outcome measures: Primary outcome measures were patient satisfaction, safety, and compliance. Secondary outcome measures were projected travel cost, self-reported fatigue and QOL, and mobility testing measures. To compare the TR effect on mobility, a comparator persons with MS group was selected retrospectively. Eight persons with MS referred from the MS Center at UFHJ for outpatient (OP) PT from January 2018 through September 2019 were identified by UFHJ electronic database search for ICD 10 code G35. The inclusion criteria for mobility deficits and functional measurements were the same as those in TR group.
Results: Eight subjects completed the TR program with no adverse events. They reported satisfaction, demonstrated compliance, and saved $8,487 in projected travel costs. All TR subjects noted improvement in self-reported fatigue, QOL, or mobility measures. Improvement in mobility measures had wide variability but did not differ between TR and OP groups.
Conclusions: The 8-week PT-monitored TR program was shown to be feasible, safe, and well received by persons with MS. Larger studies focused on specific dysfunction leading to mobility deficits and longer intervention times will be necessary to determine efficacy.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Heather Barksdale, PT, DPT, NCS, MSCS, Brittany McHugh, PT, DPT, MSCS, Wayne Hodges, RN, PMD, SCRN, Jessica Peters, RN, PMD, SCRN, Carmen Smotherman, MS, MPH, Paul M. Hoffman, MD
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to Telehealth and Medicine Today (TMT).