Plymouth University, UK: effects of oculomotor training

The effects of oculomotor retraining on upper and lower limb function in progressive MS:A proof of concept study

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Marsden, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Institution: Plymouth University
Country: United Kingdom
Amount Awarded: €74,895

Balance problems typically result in a swaying and “drunken” type of gait known as ataxia. People with MS who have ataxia find it difficult to perform tasks such as manipulating tools, balancing, and avoiding obstacles. One reason for this is that they often move their eyes involuntarily from side-to-side and have inaccurate eye movement. In people who don’t have MS but have ataxia for other reasons, this team has shown that inaccurate eye movements directly lead to uncoordinated arm and leg movements, and, importantly, that eye movements can be retrained, leading to improved walking and balancing. Now they are proposing to measure eye movements in 30 people with progressive MS who have symptoms of ataxia, and to also explore whether a 4-week program of eye movement retraining can improve their mobility.

What does this mean for people living with progressive MS?

This study could lead to the further testing of a strategy to reduce ataxia in people with MS, potentially providing a solution that improves their daily lives.


Principal Investigator Jon Marsden

Jon Marsden BSc (hons), MSc, PhD Professor of Rehabilitation, School of Health Professions, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences Plymouth University, United KingdomDr. Jon Marsden earned a degree in physiotherapy from Manchester University, UK, and an MSc in Neurological Science and PhD in Clinical Medicine from University College London, UK. He worked as a Medical Research Council postdoctoral scientist and clinical fellow at the Human Movement and Balance Unit, Institute of Neurology in London, prior to taking up his current position at Plymouth University. His research focuses on the pathophysiology and rehabilitation of balance and movement in adult and paediatric acquired and hereditary neurological conditions.

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