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Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation: How Alternative Therapies Can Help

Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation
Out of every 1,00,000 Indians, 5-20 people suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). (as quoted by World Health Organization (WHO) Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) “Atlas of MS” 2013)

What is MS?

In MS, somehow (cause unknown) the body starts attacking itself. The nerves, which send very important signals to and from the body to the brain & spinal cord, are stripped off of their covering. Due to this, the signals slow down, or stop altogether. Strange sensations emerge that may be accompanied with pain. That’s not even the beginning of the problem list. Depending on the severity of MS, muscles may become weak, sight may be affected, problems with coordination and balancing or emptying the bladder & bowel, dizziness, problems remembering things and even in thinking may occur. For the lucky ones, months or years could pass without noticing MS progression but for many others, symptoms worsen rapidly, within weeks or months. Depression too may kick in.

Did you know?

Patients with MS are more than twice as likely as the general population to attempt suicide and almost twice as likely to actually complete suicide, a new study shows.

With no permanent cure, the exact cause not known, extremely unpredictable nature and no single test that can confirm a diagnosis – this disease does leave us with a bunch of question marks. After years of investigations and research, we’ve got some answers. Medicines help bring down the symptoms and counseling is imperative for both patients and their caregivers. But alternative therapies can work WONDERS. And when, surviving even a day becomes a challenge, just about any improvement in physical functions & emotional stability is a blessing.

How do doctors diagnose this problem?

There is no single test that can confirm a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. After a careful examination of the patient’s medical history and several strategies that include physical examination, nerve tests, scans, and so on, a clear answer emerges, one that is there to stay. That’s because, there is NO PERMANENT CURE as yet for MS. So, a long-term ongoing treatment that subdues the body from attacking itself and easing symptoms can offer respite to patients.Multiple-Sclerosis-Rehabilitation

How can a REHAB PROGRAM save the day for MS patients?

A team of doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, counselors and orthotists can help the patient stay independent – walk better, talk better, swallow, dress on their own, even go to work, and remain fit in mind and body. And because MS is so unpredictable, there may be bad days and not so bad days, and a flexible MS rehab program is critical.

 

Having said that, a comprehensive rehabilitation program, as provided by AktivHealth, covers below important aspects:

Physical therapy program addresses the underlying concerns related to movement.  Special emphasis is paid to aspects like walking, strength, balance, posture, fatigue, and pain. This therapy often includes range-of-motion, stretching and strengthening exercises, gait training, and training in the use of mobility aids and other assistive devices.

Occupational therapy plays a crucial role in increasing development and productivity in a safe manner, and preventing disability in all activities related to personal care, employment, and leisure. MS patients can get tired really fast, so they need to be taught how to conserve energy and use adaptive tools to simplify tasks at home and in the office Occupational therapy is considered highly important when it comes to treating patients with thinking and memory problems.

Speech and swallowing therapy: ensures the ease and clarity of communication and promotes safe swallowing and overall health.

Cognitive rehabilitation: With MS attacking a person’s brain and spinal cord, problems with thinking and perception are sure to surface sooner or later. Depending on the severity, cognitive rehabilitation specialists like neuropsychologists, occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists, treat symptoms related to thinking, reasoning, concentration, and so on. Vocational rehabilitation: This part of Multiple Sclerosis rehabilitation program aids patients with job readiness training, mobility training, assistive technology assessments and generally help them make a career choice, learn job skills, maintain current employment or find new employment.

Alternative treatments like biofeedback therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, massage, relaxation techniques, and yoga are also known to offer symptomatic relief.

Life may never be the same again for an MS patient. However, a supportive environment and a good rehabilitation program can make a big difference in improving quality of life. Share to spread the word!

Written with inputs from Dr. Steffi Andrat Faria, MD Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

AktivHealth, New Delhi.

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