Objective: To determine the influence of an extended outpatient rehabilitation program on symptom frequency, fatigue, and functional status for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Design: Nonequivalent pretest/posttest control-group design, with posttest 1 year after initial assessment. Multiple regression analysis and analysis of covariance were used to control for symptom severity at the initial assessment and comorbid factors including depression, cognitive function, and social interaction. Effect sizes (ES) provided a descriptive measure of the change in outcomes.
Setting: Outpatient multidisciplinary rehabilitation clinic.
Patients: Forty-six patients with definite chronic progressive MS; 20 received treatment and 26 were in a nontreatment comparison group ("waiting list").
Intervention: Rehabilitation services for 5 hours, 1 day per week, over 1 year.
Main outcome measures: The MS-Related Symptom Checklist composite score, fatigue frequency, and selected items from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Functional Assessment Scale.
Results: Receiving treatment was a significant predictor of reduced symptom frequency (partial r2 = .26) at the 1-year follow-up. The ES adjusted for baseline values indicated substantial reductions in symptom frequency for the treatment group (EStreatment = .27 vs ESwaitlist = -.32). Fatigue was significantly reduced at the time of follow-up for the treatment group compared with the waiting list group (EStreatment = .46 vs ESwaitlist = -.20). There were no statistically significant differences among groups regarding functional status, but there appeared to be less loss of functional status in the treatment group compared with the waiting list group (EStreatment = -.07 vs ESwaitlist = -.70).
Conclusions: An extended outpatient rehabilitation program for persons with definite progressive MS appears to effectively reduce fatigue and the severity of other symptoms associated with MS.