Research to Test Whether “Shaky Treadmill” Can Improve Balance for MS Patients

A new research project at Marquette University in Milwaukee will investigate the impact of high-intensity exercise on a “shaky treadmill” for people who have multiple sclerosis.

In an Oct. 11 news announcement, the university said Brian Schmit, Ph.D., Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a $3.34 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health “to improve walking, balance and community mobility in people with multiple sclerosis.”

The study — High-Intensity, Dynamic-Stability Gait Training in People with Multiple Sclerosis — will “utilize a novel combination of high-intensity exercise on a treadmill that moves unexpectedly to improve balance and increase walking speed.”

In the announcement, Schmit said the project has “the potential for substantial public health improvement.

“Our team will evaluate the individual and combined effects of high-intensity exercise and balance perturbations during treadmill training in people with MS. We hope this will lead to two developments. The first is to reduce falls by enhancing balance while walking, which will get better with repeated practice walking on a surface that moves unexpectedly. The second is to improve strength, coordination, and heart and lung capacity to be able to walk faster and farther.”

In reporting on the study, Multiple Sclerosis News Today said the “shaky treadmill” — which moves unexpectedly — simulates walking on the uneven terrain frequently encountered in everyday life. The treadmill is placed on a motion base to create unexpected movement — a system developed at Marquette.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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