The value of muscle exercise in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

J Neurol Sci. 2001 Oct 15;191(1-2):133-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(01)00610-4.


The role of physical activity for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is controversial. Twenty-five ALS patients were randomized to receive a moderate daily exercise program (n=14) or not to perform any physical activity beyond their usual daily requirements (n=11). At baseline and after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months, patients were assessed by manual muscle strength testing, the Ashworth spasticity scale, ALS functional rating scale (FRS), fatigue severity scale, a visual analogue scale for musculoskeletal pain and the quality-of-life scale (SF-36). At 3 months, patients who performed regular exercise showed less deterioration on FRS and Ashworth scales, but not on other parameters. At 6 months, there was no significant difference between groups, although a trend towards less deterioration in the treated group on most scales was observed. At 9 and 12 months, there were too few patients in each group for statistical evaluation. Our results show that a regular moderate physical exercise program has a short-lived positive effect on disability in ALS patients and should be recommended.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / etiology
  • Muscle Spasticity / therapy
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle Weakness / therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome