Effect of a 4-week period of unloaded leg cycling exercise on spasticity in multiple sclerosis

NeuroRehabilitation. 2009;24(4):327-31. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2009-0486.


We conducted a small pilot study that examined the effect of a 4-week period of unloaded leg cycling on spasticity in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The sample included 22 individuals with MS who were assigned using a quasi-experimental method into either exercise (n = 12) or control (n = 10) conditions. The exercise condition consisted of unloaded leg cycling for 30 minutes per session, 3 times per week, across a 4-week period. The control condition served as a control for passage of time and instrumentation effects. The H-reflex, modified Ashworth scale (MAS), and Multiple Sclerosis Spasticity Scale (MSSS-88) were collected before, 1-day after, and 1 and 4 weeks after the 4-week period. The 4-week period of unloaded leg cycling exercise was not associated with reductions in the H-reflex or MAS, whereas the exercise condition was associated with a reduction in MSSS-88 scores. This pattern of results suggests that chronic, unloaded leg cycling exercise is associated with improvements in spasticity from the participant's perspective, but neither improves nor worsens spasticity from electrophysiological and clinical perspectives.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bicycling*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • H-Reflex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation
  • Muscle Spasticity / etiology*
  • Muscle Spasticity / rehabilitation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors