Multiple sclerosis (MS) is almost always accompanied by fatigue, a severe fatigue described by the vast majority of patients as the most burdensome symptom.
In a recent study, a research group led by Stefan Seidel from the Department of Neurology at MedUni Vienna in Austria and AKH Vienna identified light therapy as a promising non-medicinal treatment option: patients participating in the study showed marked improvement after only 14 days of use .
The study results were recently published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal-Experimental, Translational and Clinical.
For the first time, Stefan Seidel’s research team relied not only on surveys, but also on objective measurements when selecting test subjects. Thus, sleep-wake disorders were excluded in the 26 participating MS patients, especially with the help of various sleep-medical examinations.
“For example, we have ensured that MS patients with fatigue do not suffer from sleep apnea or periodic leg movements during sleep. Both are sleep disorders that can lead to fatigue in everyday life,” explained research leader Stefan Seidel.
The subjects – all patients from the Department of Neurology at MedUni Vienna and AKH Vienna – were given normal, commercially available light sources for home treatment: half of the participants were given a daylight lamp with a brightness of 10,000 lux; the other half were given an identical lamp that emitted a red light through a filter with an intensity of <300 lux.
Exhaustion is a severe form of fatigue that occurs in 75% to 99% of people with MS and is described as particularly taxing. Damage to the central nervous system caused by MS is considered the cause.
Promising and non-medicated
In addition to behavioral measures, such as regular rest breaks, several medications are currently available to relieve fatigue, but some of these are accompanied by serious side effects.
The findings of our study show a promising non-medicinal therapeutic approach,” Stefan Seidel confirmed. However, the results have yet to be confirmed in a later study on a larger scale. The exact background of the positive effects of light therapy in MS patients will also be the subject of further scientific research.
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