When 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!
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