Background: Impaired sensory integration contributes to balance disorders in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Objective: The objective of this paper is to compare the effects of sensory integration balance training against conventional rehabilitation on balance disorders, the level of balance confidence perceived, quality of life, fatigue, frequency of falls, and sensory integration processing on a large sample of patients with MS.
Methods: This single-blind, randomized, controlled trial involved 80 outpatients with MS (EDSS: 1.5-6.0) and subjective symptoms of balance disorders. The experimental group (n = 39) received specific training to improve central integration of afferent sensory inputs; the control group (n = 41) received conventional rehabilitation (15 treatment sessions of 50 minutes each). Before, after treatment, and at one month post-treatment, patients were evaluated by a blinded rater using the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC), Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54, Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), number of falls and the Sensory Organization Balance Test (SOT).
Results: The experimental training program produced greater improvements than the control group training on the BBS (p < 0.001), the FSS (p < 0.002), number of falls (p = 0.002) and SOT (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Specific training to improve central integration of afferent sensory inputs may ameliorate balance disorders in patients with MS. Clinical Trial Registration (NCT01040117).
Keywords: Gait disorders; equilibrium; falls; postural control; quality of life; rehabilitation.
© The Author(s), 2015.