Multiple Sclerosis: Improving your ability and endurance to walk

How well you are able to walk and get around is something that many of us don’t think about.  However, if you have multiple sclerosis (MS), it can be a challenge and getting tired is a part of life.  Therefore, researchers looked at using musical cues to help improve walking gait and endurance for those with MS.  There is no doubt that if you are able to ambulate better, your quality of life improves!

Seebacher, Kuisma, Glynn and Berger used a random control trial involving 59 individuals and put them in three groups.  The goal was to pair music with motor imagery (MI) explained as “the mental rehearsal of movements with actual execution” (p. 1). Researchers paired music and verbal MI for one group and music only MI, then a third group had no cuing for a certain amount of time each week for a specific period of time.  Could this form of non-active “practice” increase speed of walking and distance? Each participant could choose when they practiced and the music was switched at times to keep everyone’s interest up. Participants had to close their eyes during each session. Researchers called participants each week to obtain data about the exercise.

The results showed that everyone improved no matter what group they were in. Most of those improvements were when participants used the music and verbal MI.  Specifically, “music-cued MI but not MI along improved fatigue and QoL [quality of life] while MVMI [music-verbal MI] was most effective” (p. 8). In my mind, this supports other studies, which have shown the positive effects of music.  

For more information on music therapy, visit our website at or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at

Stephanie H. Morris, MM, MT-BC

Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow

Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC

Seebacher, B., Kuisma, R., Glynn, A., and Berger T. (2018).  Effects and mechanisms of differently cued and non-cued motor imagery in people with multiple sclerosis:  A randomized controlled trial. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 00(0).  DOI: 10.1177/135245818795332.