Looks at rehab programs that may help those with multiple sclerosis. Includes info on physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Also covers cognitive retraining. Includes interactive tool to test what you've learned. Provides links to more info on MS.
Multiple Sclerosis: Rehabilitation Programs
When you have
multiple sclerosis (MS), you may have certain physical
cognitive challenges. Rehabilitation—including
physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive
retraining—may help reduce these disabilities.
Physical therapy may improve your
ability to perform daily activities and make you feel better.
Occupational therapy may help you perform daily
activities more easily—especially those involving your hands and arms, such as
grooming, dressing, and eating. Assistive devices may be used to help you
perform daily tasks.
Speech therapy may improve your
communication skills if MS symptoms are making speaking
Cognitive retraining may help improve cognitive
impairment caused by MS.
Your personal physical therapy
program to restore and maintain mobility will depend on the severity and
duration of your MS symptoms. You may need physical therapy only occasionally
as symptoms flare. Or you may need it daily to reduce constant symptoms.
Your ability to perform the exercises will help your therapist know
which exercises to prescribe. Most therapy can be done at home either alone or
with an assistant after an initial training program at the therapist's office.
Occasional office visits will be needed to help the therapist monitor your
progress. All exercise programs should allow you time to "cool off" in between
exercises, since heat can make MS symptoms worse. The most common types of
physical therapy include:
Exercises to stretch your muscles and
increase your range of motion.
Exercises to strengthen and develop
upper arm muscles and upper body control.
Gentle aerobic exercise,
such as walking or riding a stationary bike.
Instructions on how to fall safely if you have problems
Occupational therapy usually
first includes an assessment to find out your needs and to see whether assistive
devices are needed. The occupational therapist will provide you with:
Help in getting appropriate
assistive devices, including those that help you stay mobile.
Training in walking and use of assistive devices, including use and
care of a wheelchair.
Instructions on how to transfer from a
wheelchair to a bed, bathtub, or automobile if needed.
MS can cause problems in speech,
speech patterns, and with swallowing when lesions form in the brain and
interfere with message flow in the nerves. Speech therapy may help you:
Reduce long pauses in your sentences or
Reduce slurring of words, which may result from
weakening or uncoordinated muscles of the tongue, lips, cheeks, and
Reduce nasal sound that may occur when facial muscles become
Help improve speech patterns or rhythms, enunciation
of words, and general oral communication.
Help you speak with other
means—such as alphabet cards, a cell phone, or tapes—if you are no longer
able to speak.
Help you to recognize swallowing problems and change
the types of food you eat if swallowing becomes difficult.
Cognitive retraining is a
fairly new area of MS rehab. Its goal is to help you improve cognitive
function if you have any cognitive impairment, such as difficulty remembering,
caused by MS. Cognitive retraining may help you:
Evaluate and identify any cognitive
impairment related to MS.
Retrain yourself to rely on other methods
for remembering and staying organized, such as with a computer, cell phone, notebook, or filing system.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.