Abstract

Background: Few multidisciplinary rehabilitation studies with a heterogeneous design have focused on people with multiple sclerosis (MS). This study compared subjective-reported changes in performance and satisfaction with daily activities among moderately and severely disabled people with MS during a 2-year, multidisciplinary, group-based, outpatient rehabilitation program comprising education in self-management and compensatory techniques, exercise, and guided peer support.

Methods: Thirty-eight adults with moderate disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] score of 4.0–5.5, 74% women, mean age of 48 years) and 41 persons with severe disability (EDSS 6.0–8.5, 63% women, mean age of 48 years) were assessed at baseline and after 12 and 21 months of outpatient rehabilitation using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Group × time interactions were analyzed using mixed analysis of variance. Participants’ explanations of reasons for changes in activity performance were collected via semistructured interviews and content analyzed.

Results: Statistically significant improvements in Canadian Occupational Performance Measure performance and satisfaction scores were reported in both groups from baseline to 21 months of rehabilitation. No significant between-group differences in improvement were observed. The self-reported reasons for improvement were mainly linked to environmental factors.

Conclusions: The outpatient rehabilitation program, including four themes—cognition, mood, energy conservation, and body control—improved the self-reported performance of patients with MS with moderate and severe disabilities. Environmental factors warrant consideration during rehabilitation.

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