In recognition of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, our Hyattsville physical therapists discuss the condition’s impact on patients and what we can do to help
March 14, 2019
March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign that focuses on building greater awareness about multiple sclerosis (MS) and the MS community throughout the world. Many people have heard about MS but may not really know exactly what it is or what it’s like to deal with the condition on a daily basis, which is why the goal of this movement is to educate the public in order to create a deeper and more compassionate understanding. In the process, these efforts will also help to continue driving research and technological advances to help those fighting MS. With this in mind, our Hyattsville physical therapists would like to do our part by providing a closer look at MS and explain why physical therapy may be an appropriate way to help these patients move more easily.
MS is a chronic (long-term) and usually progressive (gets worse over time) disease that primarily affects young adults. It involves the loss of myelin, which is a material that covers and protects nerves throughout the body’s central nervous system. This protection from myelin is necessary for the nerves to transmit messages in order to communicate with one another, and without it, the body parts affected by it are not unable to function normally.
The symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person and largely depend on which parts of the nervous system are involved. In the majority of patients (about 91%), MS affects the motor system, which makes it challenging to walk and perform other basic bodily movements. But symptoms can go beyond movement difficulties, and may also include any of the following:
- Fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest
- Stiffness, spasms, and/or feelings of heaviness in the arms and legs
- Memory and thinking problems
- Pain and other unpleasant sensations
- Speech issues
- Emotional problems like stress, anxiety, and depression
- Dizziness and vertigo
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for MS, but the disease can be successfully controlled with medical management and focused rehabilitation that includes physical therapy. After a patient is diagnosed with MS, it can be quite beneficial to begin physical therapy as soon as possible in order to help them overcome daily challenges and possibly slow the progression of symptoms. Our Hyattsville physical therapists can provide patients with treatments that are specifically designed to address their condition and movement issues, and a typical program will include:
A typical MS treatment program from our Hyattsville physical therapists
- Before treatment begins, the physical therapist will perform a complete examination to determine your areas of strength and weakness, as well as any associated impairments
- Aerobic training using a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine is often recommended to help you stay mobile and continue performing your daily activities normally
- In addition to aerobics, your physical therapist will often prescribe general strengthening exercises for the arms and legs, balance training, stretching exercises, and relaxation techniques
- Aquatic exercise has also been found to be particularly effective for MS patients and is often used when it’s accessible and deemed appropriate
Getting an MS diagnosis will usually be a daunting experience for just about anyone, but there should be some relief in knowing that it can be successfully managed in most patients when detected early. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with MS or have noticed any movement-related issues that suggest it may be present, our Hyattsville physical therapists would like to help. Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services today at 301-453-2117 to schedule an appointment at any of our four clinics in Hyattsville, Laurel, Glenn Dale/Bowie, or our newest location in Silver Spring, MD, or click here for more information on MS Awareness Month.