Strictly monitored exercise programs reduce motor deterioration in ALS: preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial

Christian Lunetta, Andrea Lizio, Valeria A. Sansone, Nadia Maria Cellotto, Eleonora Maestri, Massimo Bettinelli, Valentina Gatti, Mario Giovanni Melazzini, Giovanni Meola, Massimo Corbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of our study was to perform a randomized controlled trial (RCT) aimed to evaluate the effects of three strictly monitored exercise programs (SMEP) compared to “usual care” (UCP) in a cohort of ALS patients. We included patients with definite and probable ALS and disease duration ≤24 months. Patients were randomized to receive a SMEPs or a UCP. SMEPs included three subgroups of treatment: active exercises associated with cycloergometer activity (1A), only active (1B) and passive (1C) exercises, respectively. Moreover, SMEP patients and their caregivers were trained to a daily home-based passive exercise program. The UCP group was treated with passive and stretching exercises twice weekly. The treatment period for both groups was 6 months (T180), and patients were assessed by revised ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R),  % Forced Vital Capacity (FVC %), and McGill Quality of Life (MGQoL) questionnaire. ALSFRS-R score was also evaluated at 6 months after the treatment period (T360). Sixty ALS patients were randomly assigned to one of two arms: SMEP Group included 30 patients, ten subjects for each subgroup (1A, 1B, and 1C); 30 patients were included in the UCP Group. At T180 and T360, SMEPs group had significantly higher ALSFRS-R score compared to the UCP group (32.8 ± 6.5 vs 28.7 ± 7.5, p = 0.0298; 27.5 ± 7.6 vs 23.3 ± 7.6, p = 0.0338, respectively). No effects of SMEPs on survival, respiratory decline and MGQol were found. In conclusion, although no effect on survival was demonstrated, our data suggest that a strictly monitored exercise program may significantly reduce motor deterioration in ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cycloergometer
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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