According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, rehabilitation is “an essential component of comprehensive MS care.” This starts at the time a person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and can be used to achieve many goals.
Here are some ways rehabilitation can help a person living with multiple sclerosis:
Walking and Mobility
Individuals living with MS often find difficulty with walking and mobility. These problems can manifest in a variety of ways. They include balance issues, muscle tightness or spasticity, numbness, weakness and fatigue. Physical therapy helps to address these issues, reducing the risk of falls that might cause further injury.
Activities of Daily Living
Multiple sclerosis can also pose challenges when it comes to caring for oneself. Many of the same symptoms that affect mobility can make it difficult to complete tasks we often take for granted. Occupational therapists work with patients to insure they can safely groom and bathe themselves, get dressed and cook their meals.
MS can affect speech in several different ways. Lesions in the brain can cause changes in speech patterns, while muscle weakness in the mouth and tongue might result in words being slurred. Speech disorders are known as dysarthrias. Speech language pathologists provide therapy to address dysarthria and improve verbal communication.
Additionally, speech language pathologists work with patients to treat issues with swallowing. Difficulty swallowing is known as dysphagia. Because speaking and swallowing involve many of the same muscles, it’s not uncommon for a person living with MS to also suffer from dysphagia. Speech language pathologists treat dysphagia by strengthening the tongue and swallowing muscles. They do this through targeted exercises and other treatments, such as VitalStim.
Improving your overall conditioning is one of the most impactful things you can do to limit the effect of MS on your daily life. Doing so can decrease fatigue, improve muscle strength and stability, and reduce pain. The goal is to achieve optimal function at home, at work and in your community.