Effects of an aquatics exercise program on quality of life measures for individuals with progressive multiple sclerosis

Tammy G. Roehrs, Gregory M Karst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose For persons with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), aquatic exercise has been advocated to allow for aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises in a safe environment while avoiding potentially detrimental increases in body temperature. This pilot study describes the effects of an aquatic exercise program on the health-related quality of life (QoL) for individuals with progressive MS, characterizes individuals able to successfully participate, and identifies common barriers to participation. Subjects and Methods Thirty-one adults with progressive MS initially agreed to participate in a 12-week aquatic exercise program. The 19 individuals who participated in at least 25% of the exercise sessions are characterized in terms of initial scores on the Expanded Disability Status Scale, as well as pre- and postexercise scores on the Medical Outcome Study Short Form-36 (SF-36) and the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life Inventory. Results Significant improvements in the QoL domains of social functioning and fatigue were found for the exercise participants. Barriers limiting exercise adherence included physical and psychological symptoms, transportation difficulties, and availability of a significant other to assist during the program. Discussion and Conclusion Persons with progressive MS may benefit from aquatic exercise programs. Interventions that promote general health, improve energy levels and mental health, and foster social interaction in the presence of physical disability are beneficial for individuals with progressive MS. Barriers to exercise should be anticipated and adequately addressed to maximize potential benefits from such programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurologic Physical Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Aquatic exercise
  • Exercise adherence
  • Exercise barriers
  • SF-36

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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