The impact of Physical Therapy with patient with MS
Written by Shandeen Curtis (Massage Therapist, Clermont)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. It is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. In MS, resulting nerve damage disrupts communication between the brain and the body, which may lead to loss of strength, sensation, co-ordination and balance. Thus, causing severe and progressive limitations of function in daily life.
To date, there is no effective treatment for MS, however, a number of studies suggest that exercise interventions aimed to improve daily functioning of patients with MS are effective. Physical therapy for people with MS focuses on helping them return to the roles performed at home, work and in the community.
From the time of diagnosis onward, rehabilitation specialists provide education and strategies designed to promote health, wellness and overall conditioning. The goal is to promote safety, achieve and maintain optimal functioning, and preventing unnecessary complications such as de-conditioning, muscle weakness from lack of mobility and muscle contractures related to spasticity.
Research in physical therapy has identified benefits for people with MS with different types of exercise programs including general strengthening for arms and legs, balance training and relaxation techniques.
Programs that include Tai Chi may also be beneficial for people with MS. Tai Chi is a low-intensity, movement-based form of exercise that can be performed in standing or sitting positions. Deep breathing is included in this technique.
A study performed among women in 2014 showed a marked lowered incidence of falling due to balance and equilibrium issues when patients engaged Tai Chi as an MS intervention. Tai Chi posture, has recently been shown in a number of random controlled trials to improve balance, posture, vigour and general well-being in a variety of client groups. These are problems commonly encountered by people with Multiple Sclerosis.
It is important to note that Tai Chi is not learned in a matter of days though positive effects can be witnessed in a mere matter of weeks. Tai Chi has beginner, intermediate and advanced stages of the martial art discipline so you always have new material to work towards.
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