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Better balance and mobility after core stability training Completed project - detailed summary

Dr Jenny Freeman , Allied Health Centre, University of Plymouth, PL6 8BH, UK and collaborators, facilitated by the Research Project Team of TiMS (Therapists in MS) group

What was found
Importance for people with MS and health professionals
Published paper


Core stability is the ability to control the position and movement of the central portion of the body. Core stability training targets the muscles of the trunk which assist in maintaining good posture and provide the foundation for all arm and leg movements.

Core stability training is increasingly being incorporated into rehabilitation programmes and people with MS often choose to attend pilates-based classes in a community setting. It is widely believed that people with MS have reduced core stability and that this may contribute to problems with balance. This study aimed to determine the effect of core stability training on their balance and mobility.

What was found

Each of the eight participants received sixteen face to face sessions with an experienced neurophysiologist over eight weeks; each session lasted 30 minutes. They also undertook an individualised daily 15 minute home exercise programme which consisted of the same exercises.

The exercises were selected from a basket of 10 exercises, each with several levels of difficulty. This basket was generated by specialist neurological physiotherapists through a consensus process. The exercises were designed to be appropriate for adults who could walk independently with or without the use of unilateral assistance such as a walking stick or orthotic brace.

A range of outcomes were measured. Clear improvements in mobility and balance were seen in five of the eight participants, with significant differences in at least six of the nine measures.

Importance of the study for people with MS and health professionals

Maintaining mobility and balance are important to people with MS and this study showed the benefits of core stability training. It provides a model for therapists to implement equivalent programmes.

This study was supported and facilitated by TiMS (Therapists in MS), with funding from the MS Trust. TiMS brings together allied health professionals who share a special interest in multiple sclerosis. The exercises used by the researchers can be found on the TiMS website. They should only be used with guidance from a qualified therapist in the first instance.

Published paper

The research study has been published:
Freeman J, Gear M, Pauli A, Cowan P, Finnigan C, Hunter H, Mobberley C, Nock A, Sims R, Thain J.
The effect of core stability training on balance and mobility in ambulant individuals with multiple sclerosis: a multi-centre series of single case studies
Multiple Sclerosis 2010 Nov;16(11):1377-84.