The benefits of table tennis

February 21, 2024 | Pippa Vincent-Cooke

Some interesting research is taking place into the benefits of table tennis for people with MS.

A trial to scientifically validate table tennis treatment kicks off in the US and Italy this week, run by Dr Antonio Barbera, who has held regular table tennis sessions near Denver for three years and seen encouraging results.

Dr Barbera, who was diagnosed with MS in 2016, says table tennis helped him regain the motion and sensation he lost in his right leg and left arm and to walk again. And dozens of others that have attended his sessions have reported improvements in mobility, balance, flexibility and core muscle strength, he says. Table tennis is highly aerobic and forces people to co-ordinate different parts of their bodies, brains and vision like no other sport, argues Dr Barbera, who is now assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado.

“We know exercise can help manage some MS symptoms including fatigue, and problems with balance and walking,” said Caitlin Astbury, of national UK charity, the MS Society, adding “there’s a real possibility table tennis could help people with MS”.

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