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Testing Computer-Based Models for Fall Prevention Program in Multiple Sclerosis

Michelle Cameron

Dr. Michelle Cameron is a physical therapist and neurologist who has worked on clinical trials in multiple sclerosis (MS). She heard about the REACT Pilot Studies program through Gary Cutter, PhD, Professor of Biostatistics at UAB and administrative associate director of REACT.

“It really seemed like a mechanism that fit well with the work I do,” Cameron says. “I was looking for ways to get the little pieces to fit together to make the bigger pieces. This [funding opportunity] didn’t just come with money, it also came with resources in the form of people and skills.”

Cameron’s project aims to design an online fall prevention program for people with MS. Dr. Meena Kannan, a neurologist and MS fellow at Oregon Health & Science University, worked with Dr. Cameron to modify a program designed by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to make it web-based, “so people can participate on their own schedules.”

The original, in-person program ran for eight weeks and was based on printed materials and slides. The pilot funding “allows us to do high-quality video rather than just slides,” transferring the curriculum to the web, Cameron says.

On a weekly basis, participants listen to a webinar about various subjects, eight in total. The first would be about risk factors for falls, for example, and will embed a specific exercise video. The intervention on the subject side would be from the participant’s home computer. In that time, they report on the number of falls they are having on a daily basis. Throughout the trial period the researchers collect patient-reported outcomes, and at the start and conclusion participants evaluate the program—everything from the use of remote technology, to the graphics, to the webinar.

The materials will be made available on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website, which greatly increases the project’s potential user base. Users can also leave messages for one another and participate in a chatroom about the program.

“This research will allow us to get a sense of whether this works, and it may open the door to taking a lot of educational programs online, as we learn how to best take advantage of that resource,” Cameron says. “We are really grateful for the support.”

Michelle H. Cameron, MD, PT, MCR, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University.