Purpose. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of providing a community-based aquatic exercise programme and to examine the effects of a group aquatic exercise programme in individuals with multiple sclerosis. This study illustrates the implementation of a multidisciplinary community-based programme in a university community wellness centre coordinated with a local advocacy group.
Method. Eleven subjects with multiple sclerosis participated in a 5-week community-based aquatic exercise programme. Aquatic exercises were held twice weekly for 60 minutes and included aerobic exercises, strength training, flexibility exercises, balance training and walking activities. The 10-Metre Walk test, the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the ‘Timed Up and Go’ (TUG) test, grip strength and the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale were used to assess motor function.
Results. Analysis of the scores demonstrated improved gait speed, BBS, TUG test and grip strength. The average attendance of the training sessions was good (88%), and no incidence of injuries, no incidence of falls and no adverse effects related to the exercise programme were reported. All participants reported that they enjoyed the programme, and they had improved after the training.
Conclusions. A community-based aquatic exercise programme is feasible and resulted in improvement in motor functions of individuals with multiple sclerosis. These findings indicate that an aquatic training programme is appropriate and beneficial for individuals with multiple sclerosis and should be considered to augment the rehabilitation of those individuals. This programme may provide a viable model for a community-based wellness programme for people with disability including individuals with multiple sclerosis