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Published: 3 August 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesHealth & ageing  |  Medical research
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Germany
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Giving MS sufferers a better quality of life

Although significant progress has been made in recent years in developing medication that slows the progression of multiple sclerosis, there has been little effort to treat the daily symptoms of the disease. The EU-funded MS Fatigue_Therapy project is doing just this, measuring fatigue and investigating potential treatments.

Picture of the men on the wheelchair

© Alextype - fotolia.com

With over 2.3 million diagnosed cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) across the world today, it is the most prevalent debilitating disease in young adults. It is most common in North America and Europe, with over 120 000 people suffering from MS in Germany alone.

MS is a chronic and progressive disease in which the body’s immune system responds abnormally to the central nervous system, damaging nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. A hardening of body tissue leads to symptoms such as numbness, speech impairment, loss of muscular coordination, blurred vision and severe fatigue.

Although substantial progress has been achieved in recent years in developing medication that can slow the development of the disease, the daily symptoms of MS largely go untreated. This has a negative impact on the quality of life for those suffering from MS.

Despite the wide variation in symptoms, as many as 80 % of sufferers identify chronic fatigue as a major problem. There is however no way to accurately measure or treat such fatigue in MS patients.

The EU-funded MS Fatigue_Therapy project is testing a method known as ‘BAST’ to measure levels of fatigue and to assess the impact of hippotherapy (horse riding, which can improve coordination and strength) on their symptoms and quality of life. BAST (Movement Behaviour Analysis and Scales Test) assesses pre- and post-test vital signs such as the patient’s pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate and blood pressure.

MS Fatigue_Therapy will conduct BAST tests on 40 people with MS and compare their results with 40 ‘neurotypical’ control tests, i.e. those not appearing on any neurological disorder spectrum. If this study proves successful and BAST is shown to reliably measure MS fatigue, the project will then develop a comprehensive testing and rating system for large-scale clinical use.

Project details

  • Project acronym: MS Fatigue_Therapy
  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 709230
  • Total costs: € 159 460
  • EU contribution: € 159 460
  • Duration: May 2016 to May 2018

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Countries
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  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
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  Gambia
  Georgia