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Rehabilitation Programs for Multiple Sclerosis

Topic Overview

Multiple sclerosis, often called MS, affects the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord. It can cause problems with muscle control and strength, vision, balance, feeling, and thinking.

Rehabilitation programs often help. They include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive retraining.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy uses exercise of all types to help you stay as independent as possible. Your therapist will help you find which exercises are best for you. This might mean doing exercises at home or walking. Or you might exercise in a swimming pool or do yoga.

Exercises:

  • Stretch and strengthen muscles.
  • Get your heart and lungs working harder.
  • Help you with your balance.

You'll also learn how to cool off between exercises, since heat can make symptoms worse.

People with constant symptoms may need therapy every day. Others won't need it as often.

Occupational therapy

This therapy teaches you how to be as independent as possible.

You can learn how to use equipment or aids to help you with your daily life. This includes aids that help you eat, get dressed, bathe, and do other tasks.

This therapy also helps you learn how to save energy while you do those tasks. And you can learn how to do them while using a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair.

Speech therapy

MS can affect the nerves that help you to talk and swallow. With therapy, you may be able to:

  • Reduce long pauses or slurring.
  • Reduce the nasal sound that can happen when your face muscles get too relaxed.
  • Improve your speech patterns or rhythms and the way you pronounce words.
  • Learn other ways to speak, such as alphabet cards, a cell phone, or tapes.
  • Recognize swallowing problems. You can also learn what types of food are better for you to eat if it's hard to swallow.

Cognitive retraining

"Cognitive" is a word that refers to your brain's ability to do things like remember, solve problems, and make decisions. MS can make these things harder.

Therapy can often retrain your brain to find other ways to do these tasks. For example, you may learn to rely on other ways to remember and stay organized, like using a computer, a cell phone, a notebook, or a filing system.

This therapy can also help you deal with depression, anxiety, stress or fatigue. This is important, because these problems can all affect how well you can think and remember.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of May 8, 2014

Current as of: May 8, 2014

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