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Is Physical Therapy Good for MS Patients?

by Nathan Zachary
MS Physical Therapy

MS Physical therapy can play an important role in helping people with multiple sclerosis manage the condition. Its benefits include strengthening the body, preventing symptoms from getting worse, and helping a person regain lost function.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, usually progressive, disease that primarily affects young adults. Approximately 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS. Its effects vary widely. 

Although there is no known cure for the disease, it can be successfully controlled with medical management and rehabilitation. Physical therapists help people with MS regain and maintain strength, flexibility, and general fitness, and to live active, productive lives.

Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation.

How Physical Therapy Can Help Patients at Different Stages of MS

Multiple sclerosis physical therapy (PT) is helpful both with early-onset and as the disease progresses. Let’s look at what you might expect for each stage.

Diagnosis and Early Onset

From the beginning, physical therapists are good at recognizing the disability and finding ways to correct it or compensate for it. Your therapist will want to complete a baseline evaluation to see how you perform. 

This will be helpful to compare with your future abilities. PT helps you retain the habits of being active as much as possible. It allows you to retain more of a normal life by creating a movement strategy plan.

During Periods of Stability

You should be monitored regularly by your physical therapist even during times when the disease does not appear to be progressing. Consulting with your physical therapist every 3-6 months during times of stability is a good idea just as you’ll continue to see your medical doctor for check-ups during this time, you can think of seeing your PT as a body tune-up. Your physical therapist will continue to test your abilities and give you the motivation to continue your exercises at home.

During or After a Relapse

During and after your relapse, your physical therapist wants to help you regain your former level of function.

MS patients lose balance and need to strengthen:

  • Core
  • Hips
  • Legs

Targeted training for these areas is crucial. Safely doing cardio and balance exercises will help you during and after a relapse.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

If you have primary progressive MS, your disease takes a slow and steady decline rather than having periods of stability and relapse. It is even more important for people with this form of the disease to start physical therapy right away. Through PT, you’ll learn how to compensate for the bodily changes you’re experiencing. This may include learning how to use a mobility aid like a standing device or wheelchair.

Advanced Multiple Sclerosis

People with advanced MS are usually non ambulatory. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still benefit from physical therapy.

When you have advanced MS, PT can help you:

Develop upper body strength

Learn to sit properly; and

Retain the capacity to use mobility aids

Read more here!

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