Adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) often present with conditions that mimic restless legs syndrome (RLS), thereby adding complexity into the assessment of RLS severity. The current gold-standard measures of RLS severity rely on a fixed seven-day time frame, which limits the ability of these measures for studying acute changes in RLS severity. The present study examined if subjective and objective scores from the suggested immobilization test (SIT) provide a valid and reliable acute measure of RLS severity in persons with MS.
Participants with MS and RLS (n=20) and MS without RLS (n=20) were matched by age, gender, and disability. All participants completed validated questionnaires for RLS severity followed by the SIT, conducted at 18:00 (±15 min) on the same day of the week for two consecutive weeks. Participants wore accelerometer devices for seven nights to capture periodic limb movements (PLMs) during the night.
Self-reported RLS severity during the SIT had excellent construct validity and convergent validity, but moderate test-retest reliability. Device-measured PLMs, while not themselves a direct measure of RLS severity, were significantly associated with PLMs during the night and had excellent test-retest reliability during the SIT in adults with MS.
Our results suggest that the SIT represents a valid acute measure for capturing self-reported sensory aspects of RLS severity and should be considered in future research and clinical practice as a standardized acute measure of subjective RLS severity in adults with MS who present with RLS.