Multiple Sclerosis

We know living with Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult. Symptoms are extremely variable and typically consist of weakness, fatigue and pain. Everyone's journey is unique. At Neuro Physio, you'll find information on how Multiple Sclerosis affects your mobility, and what you can do to help prevent a decline.

Scroll down to learn about what types of treatments you should be looking for, what physicians often don't have time to talk about, how our workshops might be helpful, and other services that can help you maintain your level of function over time. 

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Types of Treatments

Physiotherapy

Several research articles show that physiotherapy can help improve quality of life and overall mobility with people living with Multiple Sclerosis. No matter what type of Multiple Sclerosis you have been diagnosed with, and no matter how far along you are in the progression of your disease. 

For best outcomes, it is better to be assessed early on, to prevent any decline in mobility that might occur. However, even if you are now unable to walk or using a wheelchair, it is never too late to improve to help you accomplish simple daily tasks. 

 

A physiotherapist will help you with stretches to ease muscle spasms, exercises to keep muscles working well and specific functional exercises related to your daily tasks.

 

With Physiotherapy, you can improve balance problems and trouble moving your body. 

Neurological

There are different types of physiotherapy. When it comes to neurology you need someone who knows how the nervous system works. In most cases, your muscles are still strong and healthy. The issue lies within the brain and spinal cord.

 

It is not enough to simply strengthen your muscles. This would be the same as having the best cell phone, with no reception. If the network is not working, it doesn't matter what kind of phone you have, you still won't be able to make a call. If the pathways within your nervous system are broken, it doesn't matter that your muscles are strong, you still won't be able to create movement.

In neurology, physiotherapy targets the pathways in the brain, and re-creates the ones that have been injured by Multiple Sclerosis. We have special techniques that teach your brain which muscles need to work, and when, to help you get back to a normal movement. 

Exercises

The type of exercise that you do is important. When trying to re-create pathways in the brain, you need to keep your exercises challenging and functional. In physiotherapy, we rarely prescribe standard strengthening exercises. All of our Home Exercise Programs include functional activities, like standing up from a toilet, putting your pants on or climbing the stairs. These are things that you do every day.

 

Your brain is most likely to remember how to use your muscles, if you practice during activities that are meaningful to you. We want to make the changes permanent, so we use activities that you enjoy in the clinic, and in your Home Exercise Program.

Frequency

In order to make the brain understand which one is the correct pathway, it is important to practice them correctly, and often. Just like remembering a new phone number. You might choose to review it, to make sure you remember it correctly, then you will repeat it to yourself often to make sure that you don't forget it.

The same strategy applies to your movements. You need to make sure that you are recruiting the correct muscles every time you perform an activity, like standing up from a chair. For this reason, we design our treatment plans with visits 2 to 3 times per week. This allows us to correct any abnormal patterns, to continue making progress in the right direction.

Duration

The length of treatment has two components. First, the type of session, and second, the total length of the treatment plan.

 

There are two types of treatment sessions available: regular treatment and complex treatment. In choosing the type of session, we will consider your goals, your tolerance to exercise and how many deficits we need to work on. 

For your first treatment plan, we often suggest a duration of 4 weeks. This allows us to see how you progress and how you are doing with your Home Exercise Program. After these 4 weeks, you may choose to continue on your own, or to continue for another treatment plan, which can be for up to 12 weeks.

The duration of your treatment will be discussed with your physiotherapist on the day of your initial assessment. Depending on what the findings are, and what your goals are, you will talk about what type of session is most appropriate and how many weeks you should start with.

Exercise is Important!

What to expect from your neurologist (and what not to):

When you are first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, you might not have a clue what that means. You likely went through a lot of testing to rule out other things and ended up with an MRI showing plaques on your brain. Your neurologist has likely made some recommendations for medication and you've likely had to try a few before finding the one that works best for you.

Here's some information that your neurologist won't discuss with you: Exercise is important! We know that Multiple Sclerosis causes damage to the nervous system, not the muscles. People living with Multiple Sclerosis often experience muscle weakness because their muscles waste away. 

When a muscle is not being recruited to perform an activity, your body thinks that this muscle is no longer useful. As we all know, "if you don't use it, you lose it". 

Exercise is very important to make sure that you continue to use your muscles as long as you can, to prevent them from wasting away. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a physiotherapist who practices neurology. The important thing is that you keep your muscles working for as long as possible.

Last Modified September 2019