Neuromuscular adaptations to long-term progressive resistance training translates to improved functional capacity for people with multiple sclerosis and is maintained at follow-up.


BACKGROUND Progressive resistance training (PRT) is acknowledged to effectively improve muscle strength for people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS), but diverging results exist regarding whether such improvements translates to improved functional capacity, possibly relating to insufficient duration and/or intensity in some previous studies. OBJECTIVE The purpose of this study was to evaluate potential changes in functional capacity and neuromuscular function after 24 weeks of supervised PRT, and whether improvements are maintained after an additional 24 weeks of self-guided exercise. METHODS This study was a randomised controlled trial, with a training group and a waitlist group undergoing supervised PRT for 24 weeks initially or after 24 weeks of habitual lifestyle, respectively. Functional capacity, isometric muscle strength of knee extensors and flexors, neural drive and thigh muscle cross-sectional area was measured at baseline, after 24 and 48 weeks. RESULTS The training group significantly improved neuromuscular function of the knee extensors and flexors, which translated to improvements in functional capacity. Furthermore, the improved functional capacity was maintained after 24 weeks of self-guided physical activity. The waitlist group produced similar patterns of changes after PRT. CONCLUSION Compelling evidence is provided, that PRT performed over sufficiently long periods, improves functional capacity, likely due to neuromuscular adaptations.


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