Assessment of a home-based standing frame programme in people with progressive multiple sclerosis (SUMS): a pragmatic, multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial and cost-effectiveness analysis

Jennifer A Freeman, Wendy Hendrie, Louise Jarrett, Annie Hawton, Andrew Barton, Rachel Dennett, Benjamin Jones, John Peter Zajicek, Siobhan Creanor

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Background People severely impaired with progressive multiple sclerosis spend much of their day sitting, with very few options to improve motor function. As a result, secondary physical and psychosocial complications can occur. Effective and feasible self-management strategies are needed to reduce sedentary behaviour and enhance motor function. In this study, we aimed to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of a home-based, self-managed, standing frame programme.

Methods SUMS was a pragmatic, multicentre, randomised controlled superiority trial of people with progressive multiple sclerosis and severe mobility impairment, undertaken in eight centres from two regions in the UK. The study had assessor-blinded outcome assessments with use of clinician-rated and patient-rated measures at baseline, 20 weeks, and 36 weeks. After baseline assessment, participants were randomised (1:1) by computer-generated assignment to either a standing frame programme plus usual care or usual care alone. The intervention consisted of two home-based physiotherapy sessions (60 min each) to set up the standing frame programme, supported by six follow-up telephone calls (15 min per call). Participants were asked to stand for 30 min, three times per week over 20 weeks, and encouraged to continue in the longer term, although no further physiotherapy support was provided. The primary clinical outcome was motor function measured by the Amended Motor Club Assessment (AMCA) score at week 36, analysed in the modified intention-to-treat population (excluding only patients who were deemed ineligible after randomisation, those who withdrew from the trial and were unwilling for their previously collected data to be used, or those who did not provide baseline and week 36 measurements). A 9-point AMCA score change was considered clinically meaningful a priori. Adverse events were collected through a daily preformatted patient diary throughout the 36 weeks and analysed in the modified intention-to-treat population. An economic assessment established the resources required to provide the standing frame programme, estimated intervention costs, and estimate cost effectiveness. This trial is registered with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN69614598.

Findings Between Sept 16, 2015, and April 28, 2017, 285 people with progressive multiple sclerosis were screened for eligibility, and 140 were randomly assigned to either the standing frame group (n=71) or the usual care group (n=69). Of these, 122 completed the primary outcome assessment (61 participants in both groups) for the modified intention-to-treat analysis. The use of the standing frame resulted in a significant increase in AMCA score compared with that for usual care alone, with a fully adjusted between-group difference in AMCA score at 36 weeks of 4·7 points (95% CI 1·9–7·5; p=0·0014). For adverse events collected through patient diaries, we observed a disparity between the two groups in the frequency of short-term musculoskeletal pain (486 [41%] of 1188 adverse events in the standing frame group vs 160 [22%] of 736 adverse events in the usual care group), which was potentially related to the intervention. The musculoskeletal pain lasted longer than 7 days in five participants (two in the standing frame group and three in the usual care group). No serious adverse events related to the study occurred. The standing frame group had a mean 0·018 (95% CI −0·014 to 0·051) additional quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) compared with those of the usual care group, and the estimated incremental cost-per-QALY was approximately £14 700.
Interpretation The standing frame programme significantly increased motor function in people with severe progressive multiple sclerosis, although not to the degree that was considered a priori as clinically meaningful. The standing frame is one of the first physiotherapy interventions to be effective in this population. We suggest that the programme is feasible as a home-based, self-managed intervention that could be routinely implemented in clinical practice in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-747
JournalLancet Neurology
Issue number8
Early online date10 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


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