Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is a neurological condition that affects your brain and spinal cord resulting in nerve impulses to the muscles being interrupted. In MS, your immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes myelin (coating of the nerves) for a foreign body and attacks it; this damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres, either slightly or completely, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques this causes a range of symptoms and is different for everyone. You can get symptoms in many parts of your body.
There are four different types of MS which are named accordingly as to the way the disease acts on the body over time:
Recognised as the most common form of Multiple Sclerosis, characterised by a course of recurrent and discrete relapses that result in episodes of intensive worsening of your neurologic function. Interspersed with periods of remission during which the disease stops progressing.
Individuals with an initial diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis after approximately 10 years may transition to Secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis which means that the disease will begin to progress more steadily with or without relapses.
This form of Multiple Sclerosis progresses slowly yet steadily from the time of its onset. Symptoms stay at the same level of intensity without decreasing, and there are no remission periods.
A relatively rare form of Multiple Sclerosis, there may be a small number of relapses followed by a complete recovery, Benign MS can only be diagnosed retrospectively, after a period of at least 10 to 15 years.
Physiotherapy treatment consists of an individual based exercise programme as MS varies enormously in its physical effect and you may have long-standing difficulties or objectives to address.
The primary aims of physiotherapy:
Encourage learning of motor skills and strategies of movement.
Maintain and increase muscle strength and joint range
Encourage postural stability to improve balance and movement
Minimise abnormalities of muscle tone
Education of the symptoms of MS and how they affect daily living eg managing fatigue.
Functional ability – getting in and out of bed, everyday tasks
Improve walking ability, speed and exercise tolerance
Although MS is often considered a progressive condition, in our experience almost all patients can still benefit and make positive changes as a result of therapy input, allowing you to maintain greater independence and control at home and work. Recent evidence has shown that resistance training, also known as strength or weight training, not only has a positive impact on symptoms, but may also have a neuroprotective (protecting nerve cells from damage and degeneration) element to it, and maybe can reverse some of what is going on in MS itself including having a positive impact on mood and cognition. We can now say exercise is absolutely the right thing to be doing.
If you have more severe symptoms physiotherapy treatment may focus on your walking, transfers, functional tasks, 24-hour postural management, stiffness and balance to reduce the risk of falls helping you to remain as independent and sociable as possible. We find patients often benefit from treatment of pain symptoms that are not directly a result of MS but an avoidable secondary complication.
For more information about Multiple Sclerosis click here: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/