Emerging Wellness For You Library Article

Emerging Wellness Research & What It Means for You

Researchers are working to learn more about virtually every aspect of MS care and management. While more is learned every day about treatments to manage the MS disease process, other research efforts look at ways to improve a person’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Let’s explore some of the tools, therapies, and lifestyle adjustments we’ve learned about over the past year.

New Gadgets & Tools to Consider

Electronic pill bottle and cap

The Pilsy™ Smart Bottle and pill cap, based on research by Farrah Mateen, can monitor someone’s adherence to their oral disease-modifying therapy, helping both their doctor and themselves stay on track. With the accompanying app, the bottle tracks when it’s opened and signals when the scheduled dose has been taken. A person can also set the app to give reminders for their other medications, too.

Augmented cane 

Although this white cane for those with visual impairments has not been studied in MS, it may offer advantages to those with MS visual symptoms. Researchers at Stanford University used light detection, ranging sensor technology, a camera, GPS, and a movement sensor to help the cane “know” where it is in the environment. A motorized wheel and audio cues help direct the user safely from place to place. The study found that healthy individuals with and without visual impairment increased their walking speed when using this cane.

Walking bike without pedals

The Alinker is a non-motorized walking-bike that provides support like a walker but allows the user to sit and steer while moving from place to place.  This fun mobility aid helps people navigate safely indoors and outdoors while getting physical activity throughout the day.

Managing MS Pain

  • Ongoing work at the University of Washington has demonstrated that cognitive-behavior therapy in combination with self-management strategies is helpful for managing MS-related pain. My MS Toolkit offers daily relaxation and/or meditation strategies that can decrease pain and related stress.

Diet & Nutrition

  • No diet has yet been shown to reduce MS relapses or lesions on MRIs. However, it is known that lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise have an impact on the risk of MS and its disease course. (We have lots of ideas on healthy diet and nutrition to help you get started).
  • In a recent study comparing the Swank and Wahls dietary regimens, people on both diets experienced less fatigue as well as improvements in quality of life, information processing speed (a common cognitive symptom in people with MS), and walking distance.
  • The National MS Society maintains a resource center to help you stay up to date with current diet and nutrition findings.

Health and Emotional Well-Being

  • A recent study of young adults (18-45) living with MS during the COVID-19 pandemic identified tips for improving Existential, Relationship, and Personal Growth during difficult times.

Exercise and Physical Activity

  • The current exercise and physical activity recommendations for people with MS (at all ability levels) include:
    • 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/physical activity per week OR
    • 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise/physical activity per week OR
    • A combination of both
  • Exercise spread throughout the day may be just as effective as a continuous exercise session
    • Exercise snacks are brief exercises completed intermittently throughout the day – even just a minute at a time can add up! This is a great way to work towards your goals for moderate physical activity.
    • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) include short bouts of very high intensity exercise, focused on cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, that are interspersed with lighter moments of movement. HIIT is a great way to work towards your goals for vigorous physical activity.
      • Research suggests that HIIT may have benefits for cardiac health and likelihood of relapse
      • Before starting HIIT, talk with your healthcare provider, familiarize yourself with the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, and avoid doing HIIT on consecutive days.

Remember: Research is ongoing in many areas of MS health and wellness. While work continues in the areas of treatments and cures, you can stay up to date on novel ways to manage your own life and thrive with MS!