The effect of symptom-controlling medication on gait outcomes in people with multiple sclerosis: a systematic review

Kate Behm, Prue Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: To synthesise and critically appraise randomised controlled trials examining the effect of symptom-controlling medication on gait outcomes in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Method: The literature search examined five databases (Medline, Embase, AMED, Cochrane (CENTRAL), and CINAHL until the end of November 2016. Eligible studies included medication to address symptoms associated with MS and an objective gait outcome measure. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed study quality using structured data extraction forms and the PEDro scale. Results: From 249 papers identified, 13 papers met inclusion criteria, examining three medications. Fampridine was found to significantly increase gait speed, but only in those people who responded to medication, which was less than half (pooled mean: 39%). Ten milligrams of fampridine twice daily significantly improves gait endurance. No definitive conclusions can be made about the efficacy of cannabinoid medication due to conflicting results across three studies. A single study of baclofen did not provide evidence to support the use of this medication to improve gait. Conclusions: Limited evidence is available to guide gait symptom control for people with MS. Further research that includes three-dimensional gait analysis, patient perceived measures of gait dysfunction and explores combined efficacy of other modalities on gait is needed.Implications for Rehabilitation Gait disturbance is a common and disabling symptom of multiple sclerosis. Fampridine and cannabis medication may increase gait speed, baclofen does not. Fampridine can be used to improve gait endurance. Future research should include both quantitative and qualitative outcome measures of gait and investigate the combined efficacy of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to assist clinicians to maximise gait improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1733-1744
Number of pages12
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2018


  • fampridine
  • gait
  • medication
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • walking speed

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