Dr. Jodi Gawryluk
University of Calgary
Undergraduate grant in 2018
Undergraduate student at the University of Calgary
Most of us throw on our shoes and head out the door without a second thought. But for some living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), walking can be a challenge. When their inflammation flares up, people with MS can experience crippling fatigue, which may make walking to the kitchen a chore. We know that physical activity can do great things for our brains, and this study tests if low-intensity physical activity can make MS a walk in the park!
This study examines the effect of a mild exercise program (walking) on the disease impact of MS, including neuroimaging (e.g. brain scans) and cognitive testing (e.g. memory tests). This study incorporates fit-bits as a way to monitor step-activity, allowing more realistic conclusions to be made.
There is currently a distinct lack of published neuroimaging studies on pre and post-exercise interventions in MS – this will be the first! The study has the potential to change the first-line intervention for individuals with MS. If there is evidence that exercise leads to changes in brain structure for individuals with MS, subsequent studies and associated knowledge translation could ensure that patients with MS are encouraged to exercise as part of rehabilitation (thereby providing a no-cost, evidence-based intervention). The results of this study have the potential to stimulate future research in many ways; including investigating other types of exercise, neuroimaging modalities, and useful exercise-monitoring technologies, building better treatment plans for these individuals. The ultimate goal is to help individuals with MS to build a better quality of life. This research has the ability to change the lives of individuals with MS across Canada and beyond.
This study is conducting a randomized-control trial (RCT) to examine if walking is an effective treatment option for MS. An RCT is the gold standard for treatment research, so these results could be very influential once published. The best part about walking being a treatment is that it’s very easy to implement. No fancy equipment, no need for a highly-educated therapist, just some help putting your walking boots on!
For his efforts and generous contributions to the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, this research project has been funded by and dedicated to Duff and Jen Gibson. Duff helped raise more than $12,000 by paddling 22 Km upstream along the Bow River in Calgary, AB. Read more about his inspiring story or watch his video on Breakfast Television here.