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  • Writer's pictureDeb Banning

Multiple Sclerosis & Neurophysiotherapy

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Firstly, let's understand what Multiple Sclerosis actually is.

What is a Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. MS occurs when the body's own immune system damages a sheath (called Myelin) around a nerve axon. Damage to Myelin affects the nerve’s ability to transfer signals between cells.

As a result, the signals between the brain and the rest of the body are then slowed down or stopped. It can be thought of as damaging the insulation around an electrical cable in places which alters how the electrical current runs through the cable.

The most common types of Multiple Sclerosis are:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS: The most common type. This is characterised by a sudden worsening of symptoms which then recover (remit) for an amount of time prior to another sudden worsening (relapse) of symptoms. Unfortunately, the remitting of symptoms over time typically do not return to an original baseline level of function, which causes a progressive worsening of function over time.

  • Secondary Progressive: Is typically a later characteristic of Relapsing Remitting, where symptoms continue to worsen and without recovery periods.

  • Primary Progressive MS: Is characterised by a progressive worsening of symptoms over time without recovery of function while worsening.

This condition is most common in women and those with a family history of Multiple Sclerosis however, the exact cause is unknown.

What Are The Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis symptoms include:

  • Muscular and movement impairments: ('motor' impairments) including loss of strength, balance issues, loss of coordination and muscle spasms. The spasms affect large and small muscle groups and can lead to impacts on tasks such as walking, talking, standing up, getting out of bed, swallowing, and writing.

  • Visual impairment: including changes in vision commonly and typically seen early in the disease process.

  • Continence issues: including changes in stool consistency and lack of bowel and bladder control.

  • Thermoregulatory impairment: People with MS often find that they overheat easily and are sensitive to temperature variations.

  • Cognitive impairments: including difficulty concentrating, trouble remembering, mood changes and feeling generally ‘foggy headed’.

  • Sensation impairments: including pain, sensation loss, numbness and tingling.

  • Fatigue issues: People with MS often experience feelings of fatigue or tiredness.

Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

At this stage, there is no cure for MS and treatment is aimed at improving and managing the symptoms of the disease. Treatment includes medication, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, exercise, and Physiotherapy provided by a Neurophysiotherapist.

How Can a Neurological Physiotherapist Help with Multiple Sclerosis?

Neurophysiotherapy is physiotherapy performed by Neurological Physiotherapists who are specially trained to diagnose and treat people with movement and function disorders that have originated from problems within the body's nervous and neuromuscular system. These disorders affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Please read our blog titled 'What is Neurological physiotherapy? What is Neuro Physio?' if you would like to learn more.

A Neurological Physiotherapist is a specially trained Physiotherapist who has a high level of understanding of Multiple Sclerosis. A Neuro Physio will work with you, your family and your support workers to improve your movement, muscle tone, coordination and balance - and help you achieve your goals with a tailored Physiotherapy Treatment Plan specifically relevant to your specific needs. A Neuro Physio is experienced in working with Neurological disabilities and knows how to help you manage your condition as effectively as possible.

A Neurophysiotherapist will take a tailored approach that best addresses the impairments or issues that you personally experience with MS. A Neurophysiotherapist is trained to understand and help manage the way MS may be impacting your daily life. A Neurophysiotherapist will know that they will need to factor the symptoms of MS, such as preventing overheating, during physiotherapy activities into a Treatment Plan and may also recommend a Pacing Plan or Fatigue Management Plan.

A Neurophysiotherapist can work alongside you and your family and other healthcare providers to assist you with muscle weakness and tone, balance, improved range of movement, fatigue management, pain management and coordination. Your physiotherapy program may include targeted exercises for a specific limb or a broader muscle group and it can be delivered at your home, a gym or swimming pool, or somewhere else in the community depending on your needs.

Personalised Treatment Aligned to Achieving Your Goals

If you or someone you love has MS and you are considering getting physiotherapy, it is vitally important to ensure that you engage a Neurological Physiotherapist to support effective treatment. A good Neuro Physio will take the time to understand your goals and what you'd like to achieve and integrate this into a personalised physiotherapy Treatment Plan.

Body Agility Can Help You

Body Agility are nationally registered NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) providers of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology and personal training. Experience the Body Agility difference and experience exceptional care and customer service. We take the time to understand your NDIS Goals, to fully understand your condition, and to create a tailored Treatment Plan to help you achieve your goals.

What are YOUR goals? We can help. Contact us now, we have capacity to provide services to you immediately, right across the broader Perth region with home visits, or at one of our clinics / gyms or studio - or via video consultation (telehealth). We'd be delighted to hear from you.

Nina Barker is Body Agility's Senior Physiotherapist, who is a Neurological Physiotherapist. Nina is a highly qualified and experienced Physiotherapist who possesses qualifications in neuroscience, psychology and physiotherapy and is also endorsed for neurorehabilitation. Book an appointment with Nina here.

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