Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by a range of symptoms, including motor, sensorimotor and cognitive impairments, that limit the quality of life. A multidisciplinary rehabilitation approach in people affected by multiple sclerosis was recently reported to improve the functional abilities of MS patients in daily activities. The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of multidisciplinary rehabilitation on the whole brain of MS patients by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Methods: Thirty individuals affected by MS (49.9 ± 12.1 years; disease duration: 16.0 ± 8.5 years) with a medium-high severity of disease were enrolled. The fMRI examination assessed a range of action-related tasks involving passive movement, mental simulation of action and miming of action triggered by external stimuli, such as object photography. The three tasks were performed using each arm separately. The fMRI acquisitions were performed at T1 (inclusion in the study), T2 (3 months later, at the start of rehabilitation) and T3 (after 3 months of multidisciplinary rehabilitation). Results: The fMRI results revealed a significant reduction in the activity of brain areas related to task-specific networks as well as the activation of cerebral regions not usually involved in task-specific related network, such as the medial prefrontal area. Conclusions: The effectiveness of multidisciplinary rehabilitation on activity and participation has been established in previous studies. Our study sheds new light on the effect of such treatment on brain reorganization.
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