Life with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a clinical condition characterized by a loss of the myelin tissue that surrounds the nerves and aids in normal conduction of electrical impulses.
Common symptoms may include arm/leg weakness, difficulty with balance, impaired mobility, and problems with bladder function. While MS itself cannot yet be cured, treatment is aimed at slowing the progression and helping patients maintain, recover, or use assist devices that allow them to be independent at home and in the community. Physical Therapy play a vital role in this process and improves quality of life for patients with MS.
As a Physical Therapist, we work with the client to ensure that they maintain a degree of functionality and the ability to perform daily activities without too much difficulty.
Various Stages of Multiple Sclerosis
Consulting a Physical Therapist is an important part of determining the treatment plan during the different stages of MS. During the initial evaluation, the therapist will determine limitations with skin sensation, muscle strength, and overall function (how the body moves).
As MS progresses, acute flare ups are likely to occur and the patient may need to be hospitalized. In these cases, we work closely with the physicians and other healthcare specialists to ensure a quick recovery. MS can also present as a slow, progressive condition that relapses a number of times and then seems to go away. It important to have baseline and periodic re-assessments with a Physical Therapist to monitor changes in functional level. This becomes valuable data points as MS can cause severe limitations that progress over time.
In some situations, the impact on daily life is minimal. Each person’s progression is unique. Your Physical Therapist should assess the most important functional deficits affecting you and design a treatment plan to help you achieve your goals.
How We Help…
Supervised, controlled exercise designed to maintain and/or progress function is the foundation of treatment at Valeo PT. As patients with MS tend to fatigue quickly, treatment plans are designed to be simple and gradual.
Benefits of Physical Therapy with MS clients:
1. Correction of posture and improved trunk control – Chronic poor posture can contribute to increased pain located in the neck, shoulders, and low back. Additionally, poor posture decreases trunk control and increases risk of falls. This correction’s primary focus to decrease the risks of falls.
2. Increasing functional independence with walking aids – In order to maintain independence and mobility, we may recommend an aid to assist with mobility and this may include canes, walkers, or foot supports.
3. Enhancing mobility – Mobility is a combination of flexibility and strength. If one of the two is lacking, the result is decreased mobility. This is especially important in clients with a compromised nervous system as with MS. This is where a Physical Therapist will shine. An example commonly seen here is the hamstring muscles (back of the thigh) and also the gastroc (calf) muscles. These muscles will get tight, you stretch them, they seem to become more flexible, and then within short while later they are tight again. This indicates that a different muscle somewhere else is weak and not doing it’s job. The job of the PT is then to investigate to find which muscles actually need to be strengthened or stretched.
4. Restoration of muscle tone – Increased tone (hypertonia) or decreased muscle tone (hypotonia) result from the impact MS as on the nerves. Here we may use various tools or techniques, usually through touch or pressure, to improve joint sensation and normalize muscle tone.
Physical Therapists are critical in the treatment of patients with MS and several other conditions affecting nerves, muscles, bones, and joints. If you or someone you know has any questions, call today and get schedule for a consult!