Research: AMATYA and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 230

Abstract

AMATYA and COLLEAGUES, (1)Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park Campus, Melbourne, Australia. Bhasker.Amatya@mh.org.au assessed the effectiveness of various non-pharmacological interventions for the treatment of spasticity in adults with MS.

Background

Spasticity is commonly experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and it contributes to overall disability in this population. A wide range of non-pharmacological interventions are used in isolation or with pharmacological agents to treat spasticity in MS. Evidence for their effectiveness is yet to be determined.

Methodology

A literature search was performed using the Specialised Register of the Cochrane Multiple Sclerosis and Rare Diseases of the Central Nervous System Review Group on using the Cochrane MS Group Trials Register which among other sources, contains CENTRAL, Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, PEDRO in June 2012. Manual searching in the relevant journals and screening of the reference lists of identified studies and reviews were carried out. Abstracts published in proceedings of conferences were also scrutinised. Selection Criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that reported non pharmacological intervention/s for treatment of spasticity in adults with MS and compared them with some form of control intervention (such as sham/placebo interventions or lower level or different types of intervention, minimal intervention, waiting list controls or no treatment; interventions given in different settings), were included. Data Collection And Analysis: Three review authors independently selected the studies, extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of the studies using the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool for best-evidence synthesis. A meta-analysis was not possible due to methodological, clinical and statistical heterogeneity of included studies.

Results

Nine RCTs (N = 341 participants, 301 included in analyses) investigated various types and intensities of non-pharmacological interventions for treating spasticity in adults with MS. These interventions included: physical activity programmes (such as physiotherapy, structured exercise programme, sports climbing); transcranial magnetic stimulation (Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iTBS), Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)); electromagnetic therapy (pulsed electromagnetic therapy; magnetic pulsing device), Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS); and Whole Body Vibration (WBV). All studies scored 'low' on the methodological quality assessment implying high risk of bias. There is 'low level' evidence for physical activity programmes used in isolation or in combination with other interventions (pharmacological or non-pharmacological), and for repetitive magnetic stimulation (iTBS/rTMS) with or without adjuvant exercise therapy in improving spasticity in adults with MS. No evidence of benefit exists to support the use of TENS, sports climbing and vibration therapy for treating spasticity in this population.

Conclusion

There is 'low level' evidence for non-pharmacological interventions such as physical activities given in conjunction with other interventions, and for magnetic stimulation and electromagnetic therapies for beneficial effects on spasticity outcomes in people with MS. A wide range of non-pharmacological interventions are used for the treatment of spasticity in MS, but more robust trials are needed to build evidence about these interventions.

References

Amatya B(1), Khan F, La Mantia L, Demetrios M, Wade DT. Non pharmacological interventions for spasticity in multiple sclerosis.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev: 2:CD009974. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009974.pub2. Feb 28 2013.

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