CSUN professor receives money to study multiple sclerosis

Christiaan Patterson

Dr. Taeyou Jung assists a patient with a neurological disorder to workout by using a special machine which allows arms and legs to move passively. Jung said he hopes to find a connection between cardiovascular exercise and cognitive function in people suffering from neurological disorders. Photo Credit: Christiaan Patterson / Staff Reporter

CSUN’s Dr. Taeyou Jung, Department of Kinesiology, received a $28,899 grant from UCLA to collaborate on a project for people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).
The project titled “The Effects of Cardiovascular Exercise on Cognitive Function in People with Multiple Sclerosis” is attempting to discover if cardiovascular exercise could slow the progression of MS and improve neurological function.
Patients attend the Brown Center for therapeutic exercise and assistance with the disease.
UCLA contacted Jung in a collaborative effort and the need for patients to participate in the study.
“Usually an organization has to submit a proposal to receive funding. Not in this case. They contacted me,” Jung said.
At UCLA, the medical center can research and analyze the brain from a doctor’s perspective, not from what happens inside when exercise is added. Medical personnel are interested in how exercise affects the brain of people with MS and other neurological disorders, he added.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system and brain.  The disease damages the outer layer of nerve cells and eventually slows or stops all function.
The Institute of Health claims there is no cure for MS. Doctors are not certain what causes MS. Some ideas involve environmental factors, genetic history or a virus that attacks nerve cells. MS is more common in women than men and usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 40; however, a person can develop it at any age.
“We have to ask if certain exercises have positive effects on the brain,” Jung said. “Participants will get health fitness benefits as well as contributing to a body of knowledge on treatment for MS.”
One critical reason UCLA contacted Jung is, CSUN has one of the top rated university based exercise rehabilitation centers in the nation.
Jung said the study consists of two groups: a control group and a treatment group with 10 to 12 people in both. It’s a two to three year study, with each set of groups being treated three times per week for six months. At the end of three years, Jung and UCLA hope to solve the long awaited question: Will exercise slow down memory loss in MS patients?
Patients can access the Brown Center more easily than traveling to UCLA, and it doesn’t require a therapeutic exercise program being built at the UC. While there, patients can exercise with trained students, both graduates and undergraduates, on customized equipment such as a seated stepper and elliptical in reclined or sitting positions.
The therapeutic program combines efforts of staff and students in the kinesiology department. There are 10 to 15 graduate students and 200 undergraduates in the center, Jung said. Their assistance is required for research, implementation of clinical exercise protocol for patients and the creation of progress reports.
“These students are inspiring,” Jung said. “We get outside visitors and they are amazed at the quality of passion in them. Passion and having the right heart, is what I look for when I recruit students (to the program).”
Jung and UCLA are currently searching for volunteers with MS between the ages of 18 and 60 to participate in the study.
For further information on how to get involved, contact Elise Herlihy at 310-267-4077.