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Benefits of Physical Activity for Depression and Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis: A Longitudinal Analysis

      Objectives

      To examine the longitudinal relationship between physical activity and fatigue and depression among youth with demyelinating conditions.

      Study design

      From September 2013 to March 2017, we performed a longitudinal study of consecutive youth diagnosed at their first visit with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (POMS) or monophasic acquired demyelinating syndromes (mono-ADS) at a neuroinflammatory disorders clinic in a tertiary children's hospital. Fatigue was determined at each visit by the Pediatric Quality of Life Multidimensional Fatigue Scale, depressive symptoms by the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Children Rating Scale, and physical activity level by the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire. Mixed linear models were used to examine the associations of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) with fatigue and depression over time, adjusting for age, time from incident demyelination, sex, number of relapses, relapse within 30 days, and disability.

      Results

      In 182 patients (48 POMS, age 15 ± 1.7 years, 35 female; and 134 mono-ADS, age 12 ± 3.6 years 67 female) with 538 visits (mean follow-up 3.6 ± 2.7 years and 4.2 ± 3.3 years, respectively), a trajectory of increased fatigue over time was observed in POMS (2.28 points/year, P = .008) and mono-ADS (1.33 points/year, P = .007) patients. Youth with POMS had more depressive symptoms (estimate = 11.4 points, P < .002) than mono-ADS. Depressive symptoms increased over time in female patients with POMS (estimate = 1.4 points/year, P < .02). MVPA was associated with lower depression (−0.09, P < .001) and general fatigue (0.13, P = .02) over time in POMS.

      Conclusions

      Youth with POMS who have higher levels of MVPA demonstrate lesser depressive symptoms and lower fatigue over time. Our results may inform future interventions to manage mood and fatigue in POMS.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations:

      EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale), Mono-ADS (Monophasic acquired demyelinating syndromes), MS (Multiple sclerosis), MVPA (Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity), PedsQL-MFS (Pediatric Quality of Life Multidimensional Fatigue Scale), POMS (Pediatric onset multiple sclerosis)
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