March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month, a time to draw attention to a disease afflicting over 2.5 million people worldwide. A time to offer hope and support. A time to remember that your physical therapy team plays a major role in helping those living with this fluctuating disease that progresses over time. While the condition currently has no cure, physical therapy treatment is aimed at slowing down its progression and optimizing the individual’s mobility, function and quality of life.
WHAT is MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a clinical condition characterized by the loss of the myelin tissue that surrounds the nerves and aids in the normal conduction of electrical impulses. A chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (CNS), multiple sclerosis is thought to be an immune mediated disorder in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the CNS (i.e. the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves).
Because MS causes damage in the CNS, nearly any function can be adversely affected. However, the most common symptoms include blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, weakness in the arms or legs and /or problems with mobility and bladder function.
BENEFITS of PHYSICAL THERAPY
Physical therapists play an integral role in the management of MS throughout the course of the disease …. from diagnosis to during and after relapses, from periods of stability to periods of progression and when the disease becomes more advanced. Your physical therapist will work to:
- Correct posture and improve trunk control. Because individuals with MS have an increased risk of falling, we design programs to improve balance and posture;
- Enhance mobility. Because individuals with MS often experience joint and muscle stiffness, we design programs focused on stretching / flexibility and strengthening of the affected muscles;
- Restore muscle tone. Increased muscle tone (hypertonia) or decreased muscle tone (hypotonia) is a result of MS on the nerves. We use manual techniques to improve joint sensation and restore muscle tone;
- Increase functional independence with walking aides. Mobility is an important prerequisite to independence. In addition to our focus on posture, balance, strength and flexibility, we also educate individuals on how to properly use canes and walkers as the need arises.
If you or someone you know is living with MS – or any condition affecting the nerves, muscles, bones or joints – your friends at Chiron Physical Therapy are here to help. As musculoskeletal specialists, your Chiron Physical Therapy family are experts when it comes to the mechanics of the body and how the muscles, joints and skeletal structure work with one another. We will work with you to help you move the way you want, live an independent pain free lifestyle and enjoy your daily activities.