Effect of Aquatic Therapy on Functional Balance in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Nastaran Majdinasab, Ali Nakhostin-Mortazavi, Mohammad Bahadoram, Mohammad Pouretezad, Paria Afraz


Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common progressive neurological disorder in young adults. The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of aquatic therapy on functional balance in women with MS.

Methods: This randomized controlled trial investigated the effect of exercise training in water on the functional balance among 40 women in the age range of 20-40 years old (mean age ± SD, 30.5 ±5.7 y) attending the MS Society of Ahvaz. Samples were selected from patients with the physical disability criteria Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) less than or equal to 4.5. The participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention (aquatic exercise, n = 20) or a control group (n = 20). The exercise schedule consisted of 8 weeks, three sessions per week, an hour for each session. The functional balance of the patients was assessed before and after 8 week aquatic therapy by Forward Reach, Lateral Reach and Timed Up and Go tests.

Results: The study was finally conducted on 32 patients. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test showed that the findings in the two groups in terms of age, height, weight, Body mass index (BMI), age of onset of disease, duration of the disease and the degree of EDSS have a normal distribution; as well as the groups before the start of the study in terms of the foregoing attributes were homogeneous together and they did not show any difference with statistical significance. The comparison of Forward Reach (p = 0.028), Left Reach (p = 0.012), and Right Reach tests (p = 0.016) after the experiment represented a significant statistical improvement in these parameters after eight weeks of intervention, but not in the control group. This comparison concerning the Timed Up and Go test was not significant in either group.

Conclusions: Based on the effectiveness of aquatic therapy on functional balance, applying it can be considered as a supplementary treatment along with other medicinal treatments in MS patients with balance impairments.

Keywords: Aquatic therapy, functional balance, multiple sclerosis

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