Kessler Foundation Press Releases

Researchers propose conceptual framework to study role of exercise in multiple sclerosis

Dr. John DeLuca with brain image in background

MS experts advise systematic approach to exercise research: The PRIMERS (PRocessing, Integration of Multisensory Exercise-Related Stimuli) Conceptual Framework

East Hanover, NJ. October 17, 2018. Researchers have proposed a conceptual framework for examining the relationship between exercise and adaptive neuroplasticity in the population with multiple sclerosis (MS). The article, " Integrative CNS Plasticity with Exercise in MS: The PRIMERS (PRocessing, Integration of Multisensory Exercise-Related Stimuli) Conceptual Framework", was published in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair2018 Sep 12. (doi: 10.1177/1545968318798938). The authors are Brian Sandroff, Robert W. Motl, William R. Reed, Aron Barbey, Ralph H.B. Benedict and John DeLuca.

Researchers are increasingly exploring the effects of exercise in various clinical populations, but little attention is being focused on the neural mechanisms that underlie positive changes in mobility and cognition. Using this conceptual framework will enable scientists to systematically examine the effects of exercise on brain connectivity, brain structure, and molecular/cellular mechanisms in the population with MS, and develop new strategies for rehabilitative care.

“Many individuals with MS develop disabling deficits in mobility and cognition,” said John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP of Research and Training at Kessler Foundation, and a co-author of the article. “Exercise is a low-cost, non-invasive modality that relieves both types of symptoms,” noted Dr. DeLuca, “so we are very interested in learning more about how activity results in these improvements. Rethinking how we view exercise in our plans for the long-term management of people with MS and other neurological conditions is our first step. We anticipate that use of the PRIMERS framework will accelerate advances in treatment by integrating the contributions from neuroscience, neurophysiology, and neurorehabilitation,” Dr. DeLuca concluded.

Article link:

Supported by National MS Society (CA 1069-A-7)

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

For more information, or to interview an expert, contact: Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,