According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects around 100,000 people in the UK and it is normally diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40. There are different types of MS and some people are more severely affected than others. Statistics from the MS society show that it affects almost three times as many women as men.
What is MS and how does it affect the body?
MS is a condition of the central nervous system (which means your brain and your spinal cord). Around the nerve fibres you have a coating called myelin sheath, which helps speed up the impulses in your body so that your brain can quickly tell your muscles exactly how to move. With MS however the myelin sheath gets damaged, as your immune system, which normally helps fight infection mistakes it for a foreign body and therefore decides to attack it and break it down. The feedback to the muscles is therefore slowed down, which impacts on movement, walking and day-to-day function. Other symptoms of MS include problems with vision, fatigue, speech and swallowing difficulties, and bladder and bowel disturbances. Due to the complexity of MS, it can affect each person very differently and most people wont experience all the symptoms.
How can physiotherapy help?
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy makes it clear that physiotherapists working together with other health professionals have a key role in improving health and well-being for people with MS through exercise. A physiotherapist can advise you on exercises for any bladder problems, pain, muscle spasms, weakness and stiffness that you may develop as well as advising you on how to manage your fatigue. It is highly recommended that physiotherapists should be involved soon after diagnosis as the central nervous system adapts and recovers quicker in the early stages of the condition, and you can therefore slow down the physical problems that can arise with MS.
There are great tips on MS care produced by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
If you have MS and you need some guidance from a physiotherapist, you can get in contact with London Home Physio to set up an initial assessment. Please call 0207 096 0684 or email: [email protected]