The first 10 years with multiple sclerosis: the longitudinal course of daily functioning

J Rehabil Med. 2013 Jan;45(1):68-75. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1079.


Objective: To determine the course of daily functioning in patients with multiple sclerosis in the 10 years after their definite diagnosis.

Methods: A long-term prospective follow-up study including an incidence cohort of 156 patients with multiple sclerosis. Participants were examined systematically, beginning immediately after definite diagnosis, then at the following time-points: 6 months, 1, 2, 3, 6 and 10 years. The various domains of daily functioning were assessed with the Expanded Disability Status Scale, the Functional Independence Measure, and the Medical Outcome Study Short Form-36 (SF-36).

Results: Neurological disability and physical functioning worsened significantly, with a time course dependent on whether a patient had multiple sclerosis of the relapse onset type or non-relapse onset type. Cognitive and social functioning worsened significantly over time, but with the same (accelerated) rate of change in both the RO and NRO groups. Scores on SF-36 mental health, SF-36 role physical, and SF-36 general health changed only slightly.

Conclusion: In the first 10 years after definite diagnosis, patients with multiple sclerosis showed a more pronounced decline in physical functioning than in cognitive and social functioning. There was no time-related decline in mental health, social role due to physical limitations, or general health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors