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Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks itself. The disease affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and symptoms may be present in different parts of the body. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease and there is no cure at this time, however, it may sometimes go into remission. Physiotherapy is always part of the treatment plan for dealing with this disease as muscular dysfunction is a major symptom.
Some of the ways physiotherapy can help the multiple sclerosis patient are by:
During the acute stage of the illness, treatment may be in a hospital or nursing facility. Later, as the symptoms become manageable the patient may be treated in an outpatient clinic or at home. Treatment for multiple sclerosis will be tailored to the symptoms that are present. For pain and muscle spasm, we may use cold packs or massage. Cold is sometimes preferred over heat as heat tends to aggravate MS symptoms in some patients. Gentle massage helps to relax the muscles and reduce pain and spasticity.
Range-of-motion and stretching exercises are indicated if you have problems moving the extremities. The therapist may passively move the joint to decrease muscle stiffness in order to prevent long-term complications and help you perform activities of daily living.
Physiotherapy addresses posture, balance and coordination issues in the MS patient through a number of exercises and activities. Strengthening exercises as well as education in proper posture during standing, walking, lying and sitting is part of the program. For patients who cannot walk, we will recommend and have them fitted with a wheelchair or other mobility aid. Some patients may have difficulty getting in and out of bed. In addition to training the patients to do this, we may advise on safety aids such as bed rails to prevent falls and make transfers easier.
Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating illness for which there is no cure. However, with medical attention and physiotherapy, sufferers may be able to work and function reasonably well. If you or someone you know suffers from this condition, give us a call at Oakridge Physiotherapy. We can help.
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