Nearly 1 million Americans are estimated to be living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic condition of the central nervous system.
MS is not debilitating for every patient. Some people diagnosed with the condition won’t develop severe symptoms and can live a typical life and lifespan. Whether MS presents minor or serious symptoms, a customized physical therapy treatment plan can impact how the disease affects a patient’s life. Physical therapy is noninvasive care that helps ease pain and improve physical function.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is a disease of the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. Myelin, the protective sheath surrounding the nerves, is damaged or destroyed. The nerves themselves can also be damaged. The communication between the brain and the nerves is reduced.
Common MS symptoms include the following:
- Visual Problems
- Overwhelming Fatigue
- Balance and Coordination Difficulties
- Cognitive Issues
- Impaired Mobility
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has identified four MS disease courses:
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS): CIS is the first episode of neurological symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system but may not develop into MS.
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): RRMS is the most common disease course with clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurological symptoms. Weeks, months, or even years of remission can occur between attacks.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): This can follow the RRMS course and is a buildup of disability over time regardless of remissions.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS): In PPMS, symptoms gradually get worse over time rather than appearing as sudden relapses. There are often no remissions.
MS is not contagious, nor is it an inherited disease. That said, a genetic risk can be inherited. People who are related to someone with MS are more likely to develop the condition. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with MS. There are also more cases further north of the equator. The Northeast, including New Jersey, has a higher rate of incidence than our southern neighbors below the 37th parallel.
PT Offers Improved Mobility and Function
Our physical therapists evaluate and address the patient’s ability to move and complete daily tasks. We then emphasize maximizing their strength, sense of balance, and mobility while decreasing fatigue and pain. We also offer specific training for our MS patients that use assistive devices like canes and crutches. Exercise helps manage many MS symptoms and maintain general health and well-being.
Studies of aerobic exercise programs for people living with MS show improvements in the following:
- Cardiovascular Fitness
- Bladder and Bowel Function
- Cognitive Function
- Bone Density
An article in the journal Lancet Neurology notes that exercise can help people with MS by:
- Reducing Symptoms
- Restoring Function
- Improving General Wellness
Physical activity also is associated with reducing inflammation and improving cognitive function. Proper nutrition also supports the anti-inflammatory effect of physical therapy.
We think of a treatment plan as a living and changing program. Adapting to the changes in someone’s circumstances is crucial. The client may go into remission and can increase their workout load. The program is more gentle if a patient experiences a relapse.
Any exercise program should fit their interests and abilities. The treatment plan at ProFysio Physical Therapy in New Jersey might include exercises, stretches, and manual therapies. No program should overexert the patient.
Curb MS Symptoms with the Help of PT Pros
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with MS, begin working directly with a physical therapist as soon as possible. Our team at ProFysio Physical Therapy can track the disease’s progression and tailor the plan to the specific areas with which a person has difficulty.
We offer a free consultation to evaluate your needs and how our comprehensive services can benefit you. Call (732) 812-5200 to schedule.