Calling Out MS Fatigue: Feasibility and Preliminary Effects of a Pilot Randomized Telephone-Delivered Exercise Intervention for Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue

Anna L. Kratz, Mareena Atalla, Daniel Whibley, Abigail Myles, Taylor Thurston, Nora E. Fritz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Purpose:
Fatigue is a common and debilitating symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). Exercise therapy is effective in reducing MS-related fatigue; however, its feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness when delivered over the telephone remain unknown. This randomized study aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a telephone-delivered exercise intervention for MS-related fatigue. In addition, pre-/postchange in fatigue and secondary outcomes were compared with an otherwise identical in-person delivered exercise intervention.
Twenty participants with MS and clinically significant fatigue were randomized to 8 sessions of either telephone (n = 10) or in-person (n = 10) delivered exercise therapy. Primary outcome measures concerned feasibility (number of sessions attended), acceptability (Client Satisfaction Questionnaire), and fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale and two 11-point numeric rating scales: fatigue intensity and interference). Data on a range of secondary outcome measures were also collected.
There was no difference in average session attendance by group (telephone group: 7.6 ± 1.3 sessions; in-person 7.8 ± 0.42). Acceptability and reductions in fatigue were observed regardless of group, and improvements in a range of secondary outcomes were comparable.
Discussion and Conclusions:
A telephone-delivered exercise intervention that targets MS-related fatigue is both feasible and acceptable. Primary and secondary outcome measures signaled that telephone-delivered exercise may be an effective mode of delivery that overcomes barriers to care in persons with MS and warrants testing in larger efficacy trials.
Video Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1,
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurologic Physical Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

This project was supported by a National Multiple Sclerosis Society Pilot grant to N.F. and A.K. (#PP-1612-26378) and a FRAP internal grant from Wayne State University to N.F.

The authors gratefully acknowledge all the individuals with MS who participated in this study.


  • aerobic training
  • exercise
  • fatigue
  • multiple sclerosis
  • resistance training
  • telehealth


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