International Journal of MS Care
In recent years, there has been a particular emphasis on identifying and delivering appropriate therapeutic interventions that address the significant balance and gait impairments that affect individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Group interventions implemented in community settings have been especially of interest, including tai chi classes. Recently, the authors conducted a preliminary study to examine whether group kick-boxing, which requires more vigorous movements, might be a feasible intervention. Initial findings showed promise and led the authors to pursue a more rigorous follow-up study, with the objective of determining whether a 5-week group kickboxing class improved clinical measures of balance and gait in individuals with MS. Eleven individuals completed the 5-week kickboxing program, which met three times a week for an hour each session. Clinical measures, including the Mini Balance Evaluation Systems Test (BESTest), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, and Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) outcomes, were collected at baseline, before the intervention, and after the intervention. Quiet-standing balance was also measured, and self-reported survey data were collected. Data were analyzed using a Friedman ANOVA-by-ranks test with a Wilcoxon signed rank test as the post hoc comparison. Statistically significant improvements were seen after the intervention in the Mini BESTest, TUG, DGI, and Activities of Balance Confidence. The largest improvements were observed on the Mini BESTest, with a mean of 21.9% improvement between pre- and post-test scores. Participants showed the majority of improvement on tasks that required reactive postural control movements. These movements were similar to skills that were practiced during kickboxing (ie, rapid change of base of support upon kicking). This supports the concept of task-specific transfer, and may indicate why more static-type measures like quiet standing did not indicate similar improvement. Overall, though improvements were not necessarily clinically significant, they did demonstrate the potential and feasibility of the kickboxing concept.
Jackson, Kurt; Bigelow, Kimberly Edginton; Cooper, Christina; and Merriman, Harold L., "Effectiveness of Group Kickboxing as a Means to Improve Gait and Balance in Individuals with MS" (2011). Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Faculty Publications. 4.