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physical therapy and MS

Faith_of_the_Mustard_SeedWhen my doctor first recommended physical therapy for my MS, I must admit I was very hesitant —hesitant because I didn’t feel I could do it, and hesitant because I was afraid I would be embarrassed when I failed.

As it turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about.

The physical therapist I met with was very kind, caring, and genuinely wanted to help me succeed.

My first visit was mainly an evaluation of my strengths and weaknesses. They asked me what concerns I had with my MS and what results was I hoping to see. She also evaluated what I could already do physically, such as how long I could stand holding onto a balance bar and how far I could walk with my walker. She had me squeeze her hand to test my strength and also made me show how high I could lift my legs while laying down. My main needs were increasing the strength in my legs, improving my balance, and helping me use my walker.

I explained to her that when I used my walker my shoulders were always tense and they rose up.

I felt very stiff — kind of monster like. The therapist suggested that when I feel tense, to just breathe in and out quietly.  That would help to relax my shoulders. So simple and yet it really does make a difference!

Increasing the strength of my legs and improving my balance takes a little more effort.

I was given a series of exercises to learn in the office. Each appointment included practicing those exercises and adding one or two new moves. Then, it was up to me to follow the routine daily. My therapist’s advice is always to keep my movements slow and controlled.

To start out, I do exercises from a chair in a sitting position. For laying down exercises, I lay on the bed so I don’t have to get up and down from the floor — which makes it so much easier.

Some of the exercises include an added resistance band that also helps me gain more strength.

When you go to a physical therapist, they design an exercise plan customized just for you. The exercises are simple but effective.

Do I get tired? Yes! But after resting I feel stronger and more in control. Plus, the exercises push me to be more active.

How do I know the exercises are helping me? Recently I had a fall, nothing serious but I landed on the ground. I know that the strength I have gained from my physical therapy exercises definitely helped lift me back to my feet!

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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Debi is a retired Admissions and Marketing Director and currently resides in Oregon. She is married and the Mother of three grown children and has three Grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. She hopes to help and inspire others that are also dealing with MS.
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  1. Philip Longford says:

    We are very fortunate to have a local Samson Centre, close by. I was very reluctant to use the services they offer, when I was first diagnosed. It is unnerving, being surrounded by people, a few years further down the road, in chairs and scooters, and terrified that that is what life has in store for you. You learn to accept things, but certainly do not take it, lying down! Exercise certainly helps. Yoga cds can be so stupid, but, customised for MS, it helps. Even stuff like doing the shopping, (with a trolley for support), is useful. (Although obviously easier to do it online!) Chasing new consultant, to try to get HSCT. There are risks, but what the heck. Got to be worth a try!

  2. Judy LynnJudy Lynn says:

    I’m curious if you saw a physical therapist that specialized in people with MS or chronic conditions? I don’t know how much of a difference that would make.
    P.S. My shoulders are tensed up ALL the time. I took a deep breath and relaxed them when I read your article!

    • Debi WilsonDebi says:

      Hi Judy!
      It was not a specialized MS therapist that I saw. But, they did have other MS patients.
      I am glad the deep breath comment helped your tension, it really does work!:)

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