What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition where the protective sheath around the nerves that help keep the important movement messages protected starts to deteriorate. As this happens the messages that travel from our brains to our bodies are interrupted, and overtime this leads to difficulty with movement.
What are the common difficulties associated with MS?
MS can affect people differently. Due to it’s variable nature, someone may struggle with an activity during a relapsing episode and then regain their independence as they move into remittance. However, the level of independence regained can be reduced after each cycle.
Common difficulties that are associated with MS include:
- Reduced mobility requiring the use of wheelchairs or walking aids
- Difficulties with transferring around the house, for example in and out of chairs or on and off the bed
- Ascending and descending the stairs
- Accessing the bath or shower (particularly if there is a step or cubicle style shower)
- Reduced standing tolerance to prepare meals and drinks
- Increased fatigue which can affect work and relationship roles
- Altered sensations such as vision and touch
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with MS, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can an occupation therapy help people with multiple sclerosis?
Occupational therapy is an important source of support for clients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The role of an occupational therapist (OT) is to work with clients to maximise their level of independence in their day-to-day activities. We achieve this through assessments of a client’s daily life, to identify goals, routines and activities that they wish to maintain, protect or work towards. The journey of multiple sclerosis is different for each person diagnosed, and our role is to provide clients with the ‘tools’ they need to lead fulfilling lives.
An OT will work with a client with MS to identify the areas they are struggling with and help them find ways around these to continue to lead life as fully as possible.
- Providing advice on new techniques to continue to complete everyday activities such as dressing and meal preparation for as long as possible as the condition advances
- Support with sourcing the right equipment to help with difficulties as they arise, such as beds or chairs
- Making longer term recommendations to ensure the home environment will meet both current and future needs. This includes considering adaptations such as wet rooms or through floor lifts.
- Working with a client and / or their employer to advise on ways to remain at work for as long as possible. This may involve pacing strategies to maximise energy or work place changes to ensure you are positioned correctly
- Helping manage fatigue by identifying priorities for the day’s energy, whether that be getting the children to bed or maintaining a work role, and then planning how to conserve energy levels for this.
- Ensuring the correct seating and wheelchair are provided to maximise function and independence
- Recommending environmental controls which allow the control of functions in the home such as opening curtains, turning on lights or adjusting music or TV settings to be controlled by the client from their wheelchair, armchair or bed. An occupational therapist will work with a client to identify the most suitable environmental controls for them that will preserve their independence for as long as possible