All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Robert W Motl

Advisory Committee Members

Amy W Amara

Aurthur S Walters

Brian M Sandroff

James H Rimmer

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Health Professions


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is an idiopathic neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs that affects 26% of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). The current pharmacological treatments for RLS are associated with a number of side effects, including the worsening of symptoms (i.e., augmentation). Physical activity represents a promising, behavioral approach for managing symptoms of RLS in MS. To date, physical activity has demonstrated tremendous benefits for managing many consequences of MS, but there is no evidence on its efficacy for managing RLS in MS. This dissertation described the current literature regarding physical activity and RLS in adults with MS, evaluated physical activity as an approach to manage symptoms of RLS in adults with MS using two different approaches, and examined the validity and reliability of a promising objective measure of RLS severity in adults with MS. Results are presented through four single study chapters. Briefly, light physical activity and the pattern of sedentary behavior may be important targets for prospective behavioral interventions that target the management of RLS in persons with MS. Further, a 16-week behavioral intervention for increasing physical activity had a strong and positive effect on reducing RLS severity compared to a waitlist control condition in a small sample of adults with MS and RLS. Lastly, the suggested immobilization test (SIT) may represent an appropriate subjective measure for capturing acute changes in RLS severity in adults with MS who have RLS. These results represent a crucial first-step for informing future randomized controlled trials and designing larger-scale studies that can establish efficacy and effectiveness of physical activity and exercise for the management of RLS symptoms in persons with MS. This dissertation project is vital to persons with MS as it is the first focal investigation of a possible behavioral intervention for managing RLS and lays the groundwork for a focused field of research to establish the efficacy and effectiveness of physical activity and exercise in adults with RLS and MS.



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