Preserved brain functional plasticity after upper limb task-oriented rehabilitation in progressive multiple sclerosis

G. Boffa, A. Tacchino, E. Sbragia, S. Schiavi, A. Droby, N. Piaggio, G. Bommarito, G. Girardi, G. L. Mancardi, G. Brichetto, M. Inglese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and purpose: Limited research has been dedicated to upper limb (UL) rehabilitation in progressive multiple sclerosis (PMS). The objective in this pilot study was to investigate the effect of task-oriented UL rehabilitation in PMS and to perform explorative analyses of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlates of changes in motor performance. Methods: Twenty-six PMS patients with mild UL impairment were prospectively enrolled and randomized into two groups: an active treatment group (ATG, n = 13) and a passive treatment group (PTG, n = 13). At baseline and after training, patients underwent MRI scans with structural and functional imaging and were evaluated with the action research arm test, the nine-hole peg test, the ABILHAND scale and the modified fatigue impact scale (MFIS). Measures of motor finger performance were obtained by engineered glove measuring. Results: After rehabilitation, the ATG improved in several finger motor tasks (0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.03, 0.72 ≤ Cohen's d ≤ 1.22) and showed reduced MFIS scores compared with the PTG (P = 0.03). The ATG showed increased functional connectivity within the cerebellar and thalamic resting state networks compared with the PTG (P < 0.05). Correlations were found between several measures of motor improvement and thalamic and sensorimotor networks (0.87 ≤ r ≤ 0.93, 0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.03). No changes in cerebral volumes and diffusion tensor imaging derived measures were detected. Conclusions: Progressive multiple sclerosis patients with mild UL dysfunction benefit from task-oriented UL rehabilitation, which seems to be more efficient than simple passive mobilization. Despite a high burden of disability and brain damage, functional adaptive capacities seem to be preserved, thus providing a rationale for the use of rehabilitative treatments in late PMS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • functional MRI
  • progressive multiple sclerosis
  • rehabilitation
  • upper limbs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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