Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the brain and spinal cord, that involves an immune-mediated process in which the body’s immune system (particularly T cells) abnormally turns on against the central nervous system. The exact trigger or target that the immune system is trying to attack, remains unknown and there currently is no cure. It is thought that environmental factors can predispose a person who is genetically susceptible to develop MS.

In MS, the immune system preferentially attacks the fatty sheath around nerves called myelin, as well as the nerve fibres themselves. The damage leaves scar tissue called sclerosis, and because of this variable damage that can occur at various parts of the brain and spinal cord, a mixture of symptoms are experienced.

Common symptoms include temperature-mediated fatigue, tremors, visual disturbances, sensory changes and difficulties with balance or coordination. Reduced voluntary coordination in movement is called ataxia. Others may also exhibit increased tone and spasticity.

There are 4 types of MS:

Relapse-Remitting

This type is characterised by clearly defined “attacks” that result in a sudden reduction in neurological function called relapses. This is followed by partial or complete recovery of symptoms called remission periods. Most people diagnosed with MS are in this category.

Secondary-Progressive

This type usually follows on after a Relapse-Remitting course. Neurological function begins to take on a more predictable and progressive course without any periods of remission.

Primary-Progressive

This type is characterised by a gradual worsening of neurological function from the start, and may have periods of mild improvement or greater than expected worsening, without distinct periods of remission.

Progressive-Relapsing

The rarest of the four types, this type presents with worsening of neurological function from the start, but punctuated by distinct relapses on a background of gradual decline in function without remission.

Common challenges:

  • Fatigue

  • Patchy sensory changes

  • Altered muscle tone

  • Muscle weakness

  • Reduced bladder and bowel control

  • Difficulties with vision, hearing or sense of balance

  • Postural imbalances

  • Reduced coordination

  • Slowed thinking

  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction

  • Difficulties with walking and running

The role of a neurological physiotherapist in MS:

Neurological physiotherapists are physiotherapists with additional training and expertise in treating problems related to the brain, spinal cord, inner ear and nerves. Neurological physiotherapists apply their neuroscience knowledge to assess the physical aspects that are affected by MS, so as to individualise a treatment strategy and approach that would enable the person to change their movement behaviour.

With specific attention given to the person’s thinking abilities and fatigue, therapy involve lifestyle recommendations and include an array of interventions such as hydrotherapy, home exercises and gym programs to maximise the individual’s capacity to maintain their physical abilities for as long as possible.

What our skilled therapists can offer:

  • Thoroughly assess the individual’s neurological systems to determine current and predicted abilities

  • Design a personalised neurological rehabilitation program that is holistic and considers the 24-hour routine

  • Provide hands-on treatment to teach the individual how to move better or more efficiently

  • Provide advice on facilitating a healthy lifestyle and identification of factors that may improve an individual’s daily life

  • Provide advice on facilitating skill development and transfer into the individual’s daily life and education to caregivers

  • Review and prescribe equipment that you may need

  • Liaise with the other health professionals or funding bodies as required to assist in your rehabilitation or health and well-being

  • Write reports as required to advocate for your health and capacity building

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