The Effects of a Very Brief Aquatic Exercise Intervention onFitness and Cognitive Function in Multiple Sclerosis

by Dayana Calvo

Institution: Kent State University
Year: 2017
Keywords: Psychology
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2216420
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1483425396590619


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune diseasecharacterized by the production of widespread lesions in the brainand spinal cord. The disease is associated with a variety ofdisabling symptoms negatively affecting an individualsfunctionality and quality of life. Cognitive impairment is evidentin approximately half of those diagnosed with MS, yet no treatmentto improve cognitive function in these individuals is available. Areview of the literature in MS and cognitively similar populationssuggests exercise may improve fitness and produce positivecognitive outcomes; however, several disease-associated symptoms,such as physical and motor limitations, pain, fatigue, anddifficulty with temperature regulation are cited as barriers toexercising in this population. As such, fitness levels aretypically lower in MS compared to the general population, which mayfurther contribute to reduced functionality and cognitiveimpairment. Aquatic exercise is a kind of program that hassuccessfully shown cognitive and fitness improvements in otherpopulations, and may provide similar benefits and help to overcomecommon barriers in MS as well. The current study examined theeffects of a very brief aquatic exercise intervention oncardiovascular fitness and cognitive function in individuals withMS. A total of 38 individuals participated in a one-week exerciseintervention (n = 19) or control (n = 19) condition. Cognitiveperformance and fitness were assessed 24 hours pre-and-postintervention. In the interim, the exercise group participated in adaily exercise program, while the control group was instructed tocontinue their typical routines. It was hypothesized that one weekof aquatic exercise would produce positive changes in fitness andcognitive function. Fitness was proposed as a mediating factor forthe relationship between group membership (i.e., exercise versuscontrol) and post-intervention cognitive performance. Objective(heart rate) and subjective (rate of perceived exertion) measuresof intensity, measured at several time-points during each exercisesession, were proposed as key factors related to cognitive andfitness changes. As expected, fitness improved following theintervention in the exercise group, but not in controls. With theexception of learning and memory, cognitive performances improvedfor both groups on various measures. Reliable change index (RCI)calculations showed the percentage of reliable fitness andcognitive improvements was higher in the exercise group; however,RCI group comparisons showed that only fitness changes weresignificantly different. Contrary to expectations, the variablesutilized in the meditational models were not significantlycorrelated, thus neither amount of fitness change nor totalpost-test fitness mediated the relationship between groupmembership and post-test cognitive function. Additionally, whilechange scores for fitness and cognitive tests did not correlatewith subjective/objective intensity measurements, post-test fitnessand cognitive performances didAdvisors/Committee Members: Spitznagel, Mary Beth (Advisor).