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Multiple Sclerosis and Exercise…Getting the Balance Right.

Around 8000 people in Ireland live with the condition, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Despite being a progressive neurological condition many individuals  who have MS can manage to cope with the illness and handle the associated difficulties. So if you are affected by MS either by having the illness or knowing somebody who has it, then today’s blog post is worth a read. Chartered Physiotherapist Caroline Walsh explains what the condition is and also how exercise can help in managing the condition.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition of the central nervous system. The fatty substance on our nerves breaks down or becomes scars and it effects how nerve impulses (messages from the brain) are transported throughout our bodies.

Common Signs and symptoms of MS

There are a variety of signs and symptoms and you may not get them all. Issues ranging from physical dysfunction, memory alterations and mood changes through to sexual dysfunction are seen. Below are some of the more common.

  • Fatigue  
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Poor balance/ increased falls risk
  • Poor coordination
  • Depression

Management of MS

There is currently no know cure. Current treatment involves prescription medication to manage symptoms. Physiotherapy and exercise can also be prescribed to help regulate symptoms that are synomonus with the disease.

Exercise and MS

In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms.

Research suggests that people who participated in an exercise program have better cardiovascular fitness, improved strength, less fatigue and depression, a more positive attitude, and increased participation in social activities. 

Types of Exercise and Their Benefits

  • Aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, cycling); reduces fatigue levels, improve cardiovascular fitness and improves mood.
  • Strengthening exercises (weights, resistance bands)- reduce falls risk.
  • Balance exercise (Tai Chi, prescribed exercises)- reduce falls risk.
  • Stretching exercises (yoga, prescribed exercises)- manage muscle spasms and joint stiffness.

Exercises such as water aerobics, swimming, yoga and tai chi often work well for people with MS 

Summary

Exercise can help ease and manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, but it’s important to take certain precautions if you want your exercise program to be successful. The most important thing to remember is to not overdo it. People with MS should consult with their physiotherapist before starting a new exercise programme. The exercise programme should be designed with careful consideration of the capabilities or limitations of the patient. The exercise prescription should also include special consideration for specific patient goals. A physiotherapist can also help design or revise the exercise programme for patients who require supervision. 

If you think you or somebody you know would benefit from such an exercise programme then please book an appointment with us today. For more information about multiple sclerosis you can visit MS-Ireland.

Thank you to Caroline Walsh for covering today’s topic. If you would like to be treated or speak to Caroline be sure to book into our Raheny clinic!