Development and Usability Testing of the ATOMIC (Active Teens MultIple sClerosis) Mobile App to Increase Physical Activity Levels in Youth with Multiple Sclerosis

Hermès Canada ǀ MS Society Wellness Research Innovation Grant

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ann E. Yeh

Affiliation: The Hospital for Sick Children

Term: November 1, 2016-October 21, 2018

Funding: $39,999.66

Keywords: pediatric MS, wellness, physical activity, mobile application

Project Description:

Previous studies have demonstrated a relationship between higher self-reported physical activity and lower MS disease burden, as well as lower levels of fatigue and depression, in children and adolescents living with MS. Unfortunately, youth with MS overall tend to be highly inactive. In particular, social, psychological and environmental barriers may prevent youth from starting and sustaining group-based exercise programs. Dr. Yeh proposes to address this important issue by developing an intervention to increase physical activity in youth with MS by providing an accessible and sustainable alternative to group-based exercise programs. By taking advantage of widespread access to internet and mobile devices among youth, Dr. Yeh and her team will develop a physical activity mobile application (app) tailored to youth with MS and evaluate the usability of such an app. Features of the app will include the ability for users to directly monitor their physical activity behavior; theory-informed physical activity content and coaching features to help youth overcome barriers to activity; and social networking features to give youth with MS an opportunity to connect and support one another.

Potential Impact: The study is poised to provide accessible and individually-tailored physical activity programming for youth with MS who face significant barriers to engaging in physical activity. It will also provide a platform for researchers to discover how to best promote PA and understand the role of physical activity on disease outcomes.

Project Status: In Progress

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