Web-based physiotherapy for people moderately affected with Multiple Sclerosis; quantitative and qualitative data from a randomized, controlled pilot study

Clin Rehabil. 2014 Sep;28(9):924-35. doi: 10.1177/0269215514527995. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Objective: To explore the effectiveness and participant experience of web-based physiotherapy for people moderately affected with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and to provide data to establish the sample size required for a fully powered, definitive randomized controlled study.

Design: A randomized controlled pilot study.

Setting: Rehabilitation centre and participants' homes.

Subjects: Thirty community dwelling adults moderately affected by MS (Expanded Disability Status Scale 5-6.5).

Interventions: Twelve weeks of individualised web-based physiotherapy completed twice per week or usual care (control). Online exercise diaries were monitored; participants were telephoned weekly by the physiotherapist and exercise programmes altered remotely by the physiotherapist as required.

Main measures: The following outcomes were completed at baseline and after 12 weeks; 25 Foot Walk, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up and Go, Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale, Leeds MS Quality of Life Scale, MS-Related Symptom Checklist and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The intervention group also completed a website evaluation questionnaire and interviews.

Results: Participants reported that website was easy to use, convenient, and motivating and would be happy to use in the future. There was no statistically significant difference in the primary outcome measure, the timed 25ft walk in the intervention group (P=0.170), or other secondary outcome measures, except the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (P=0.048). Effect sizes were generally small to moderate.

Conclusion: People with MS were very positive about web-based physiotherapy. The results suggested that 80 participants, 40 in each group, would be sufficient for a fully powered, definitive randomized controlled trial.

Keywords: MS; Multiple sclerosis; exercise; patient experience; telerehabilitation; web-based.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telemedicine / methods*