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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Using a virtual reality system to improve balance for those with multiple sclerosis

The Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation has published researchlooking at the use of virtual reality to help patients with multiple sclerosis maintain their balance, a common issue for those with the disease. Co-author Alon Kalron explains more.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Healthy nerves are coated in a fatty casing (called the myelin sheath) which helps messages to travel quickly and smoothly along nerves.
When a person is suffering from MS, the immune system, which normally helps to protect against infection, attacks the myelin sheath, stripping it from the nerves (demyelination).
This demyelination means that messages cannot travel along the nerves effectively, causing a range of disabilities like muscle weakness, walking difficulties, fatigue, thinking problems, numbness and blurred vision.

Helping MS patients with their balance

Many people suffering from MS suffer from problems with balance. The aim of this study was to look at the effects of training with a new virtual reality system on balance in people with MS and compare it with traditional physical therapy. The study was performed in the Sheba Multiple Sclerosis Center and the Center of Advanced Technologies in Rehabilitation at Tel-HaShomer, Israel.

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