Exercise therapy for muscle and lower motor neuron diseases

Aisha Munawar Sheikh, John Vissing

Copenhagen Neuromuscular Center, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Muscle and lower motor neuron diseases share a common denominator of perturbed muscle function, most often related to wasting and weakness of muscles. This leads to a number of challenges, such as restricted mobility and respiratory difficulties. Currently there is no cure for these diseases. The purpose of this review is to present research that examines the effects of exercise in muscle and lower motor neuron diseases. Evidence indicates that moderate intensity aerobic- and strength exercise is advantageous for patients with muscle diseases, without causing harmful exercise-induced muscle damage. On the contrary, motor neuron diseases show a rather blunted response from exercise training. High-intensity training is a modality that seems safe and a promising exercise method, which may circumvent neural fatigue and provide effect to patients with motor neuron disease. Although we have come far in changing the view on exercise therapy in neuromuscular diseases to a positive one, much knowledge is still needed on what dose of time, intensity and duration should be implemented for different disease and how we should provide exercise therapy to very weak, non-ambulatory and wheelchair bound patients. 

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