Managing Fatigue in MS with Technology

The intersection between OT, rehabilitation, and technology will transform your work and the future of OT practice. So for the next few weeks we’re excited to dive into this emerging aspect of OT!

The Paper
Grant, J., Gamueda, M. A., Ortega, A., & Song, J. (2018). Managing Fatigue with Technology for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. PDF with poster found here

The Problem
Fatigue is a key problem in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).  OTs often use energy conservation techniques to address fatigue through a variety of methods.  As health apps become more popular, we need to know which ones are effective for OT.

Study Details
For their capstone project, OT students at Dominican University in California tried the PaceMyDay app with 10 individuals living with MS.

The app allows patients to plan activities for the day, set reminders, track their energy levels, and monitor things over time. It also gives tips to help manage fatigue when needed.

Patients selected one task to use the app with, then monitored their fatigue and scores over 14 days.

Outcomes were measured with the MFIS and COPM.

Full disclosure, we haven’t tried the app and they're not paying us. The app is available as part of a $9.99 app suite which includes a goal setting tool. If you’ve tried it let us know your thoughts so we can pass it on to help other OTs.

Study Results

  • For the chosen task, scores on both the MFIS and COPM improved over the 14 day period

  • Authors note that the app helped study participants plan and monitor around fatigue; increase adherence to energy conservation strategies; and assisted with fatigue management.

To Think About
Because of the small sample (10 people) and study type (even with statistical insights) the findings are limited. But it’s a great start that shows promise for apps to help guide energy conservation intervention.

Apps may also have other benefits such as:

  • Can help you track data quickly to save you time and energy in charting/ documentation.

  • Some patients (especially younger or phone addicted ones) may find it easier or more exciting to track and review activity within an app, rather than on paper. Thus increasing ‘buy-in.’

  • Apps can provide active reminders and repetition to help establish behavioural change (Eg. through use of push notifications and alarms/or reminders). *This one is an emerging and important tech theme.

Whether you use an app, paper handouts, or none of the above, literature on pacing and energy conservation applies to all approaches.

To boost your practice around current literature on Energy Conservation Management you can sign up for the free Energy Conservation 7-day mini-course.

It’s free mini-videos sent straight to your inbox - one each day for seven days.

Sign up for the Energy Conservation Mini Course!