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Fatigue and physical fitness of mildly disabled persons with multiple sclerosis: a cross-sectional study

Valet, Maximea,b; Lejeune, Thierrya,b; Glibert, Yumikob; Hakizimana, Jean C.b; Van Pesch, Vincentc; El Sankari, Sourayac; Detrembleur, Christinea; Stoquart, Gaëtana,b

International Journal of Rehabilitation Research: September 2017 - Volume 40 - Issue 3 - p 268–274
doi: 10.1097/MRR.0000000000000238
Original articles

Fatigue is frequent and disabling in persons with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) with mild neurological disability. These patients also have impaired physical fitness. Whether mildly disabled pwMS are deconditioned, and this deconditioning is linked to fatigue, remains unknown. Our aim is to determine the physical fitness of mildly disabled patients with multiple sclerosis and study its relationship with perceived fatigue and to link perceived fatigue with other parameters. Twenty patients (14 women; mean age: 45.5 years) with mild disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale 0–4) underwent a 2-min walking test, Timed Up-and-Go test, aerobic capacity testing, and isometric knee extension testing to assess strength and neuromuscular fatigability. They completed questionnaires assessing perceived fatigue, psychological status, and physical activity. Correlation coefficients and multivariate regression were used to analyze the relationships among variables. Seventeen (85%) patients reported a high level of fatigue. Thirteen (65%) patients had subnormal aerobic capacity. Fatigue was weakly to moderately associated with aerobic capacity, mobility, walking capacity, depression, and neuromuscular fatigability. An association of disease duration, aerobic capacity, and the neuromuscular fatigability index explained 65.1% of fatigue. A high proportion of pwMS with mild neurological disability are fatigued and deconditioned. Perceived fatigue is linked to aerobic capacity, neuromuscular fatigability, depression, mobility, and walking capacity. Focusing on these parameters could help in the management of fatigue.

aUniversité catholique de Louvain, Secteur des Sciences de la Santé, Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Clinique, Neuromusculoskeletal Lab (NMSK)

bCliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Service de Médecine Physique et Réadaptation

cCliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Service de Neurologie, Brussels, Belgium

Correspondence to Maxime Valet, MD, Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Service de Médecine Physique et Réadaptation, Avenue Hippocrate 10, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32 276 45375; fax: +32 276 49063; e-mail:

Received March 8, 2017

Accepted June 4, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.