This study examined whether the relationship between metabolic equivalent units (METs) and step-rate is altered in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and developed step-rate thresholds for activity intensity for these persons. Participants were 24 persons with MS (20 women; age = 44 ± 12) and 24 healthy persons without MS (20 women; age = 41 ± 11). The MS group was divided using the 12-item MS Walking Scale (MSWS-12) into two walking impairment subgroups: (a) minimal (n = 13, MSWS-12 ≤ 12.5) and (b) mild-moderate (n = 11, MSWS-12 > 12.5). METs were measured with spirometry and step-rate with hand-tally. Steprate, height, group, the step-rate by group interaction, and the square of step-rate significantly predicted METs. At a given height, the step-rate thresholds at 3 and 6 METs were lower for persons with minimal impairment than persons without MS and even lower for persons with mild-moderate impairment. The relationship between METs and step-rate is altered in persons with MS, lowering their step-rate thresholds for activity intensity, especially for persons with MS who have higher levels of walking impairment.
Stamatis Agiovlasitis is with the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi State University. Robert W. Motl is with the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.