Exercise program shows promising results for multiple sclerosis patients

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Australian researchers say a new exercise program is showing promising results in people with multiple sclerosis.

Like many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), Sharryn McMillan suffered frequent falls at the worst possible times.

The fear of falling was so intense it made her reluctant to leave the house.

"It's shocking because you can't get up. And if you're out somewhere, you have to get someone to help you, and people don't realise what's wrong,” she said.

Sharryn took part in pilot trial of an exercise program designed by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

The program includes an electromagnetic mat - linked to a console - and a TV screen.

Designed like a game, it provides feedback, and provides an incentive to better your own score.

Sharryn said she noticed an improvement and went from from falling 3 to 4 times a month, to hardly ever.

Dr Lisa Melton from MS Research Australia said the preliminary results were promising and suggested improvements in other areas as well.

"The rates of falls people are experiencing have gone down," she said. "Not only have they improved balance mobility but they've also changed some of the thinking skills - the processing speed in the brain."

MS is a lifelong neurological disorder, which affects people differently but can impact vision, walking, speech, memory and writing.

The disorder most commonly affects younger adults aged 20 to 40, with women three times more likely to be diagnosed. Treatments are available to help manage MS, but there is no cure,

Researchers will soon be rolling out a large-scale clinical trial, and they're looking for volunteers to take part.

You can find out more on the NeuRa website.

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