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Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Winners 2022

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Physiotherapy plays an important role in the management of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a key component of comprehensive care for individuals living with MS and aims to address various physical impairments, improve functional abilities and enhance overall quality of life.

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Here’s some information on the role of physiotherapy in relation to MS:

Improving Mobility and Function: MS can cause a range of mobility issues, including muscle weakness, balance problems, coordination difficulties and gait disturbances. Physiotherapists work with individuals with MS to assess their mobility and functional abilities and develop personalised exercise and rehabilitation programmes to address specific impairments. These programmes may include strengthening exercises, stretching routines, balance training and gait retraining to help individuals maximise their mobility and independence.

Managing Spasticity and Muscle Tone: Spasticity, characterised by muscle stiffness and involuntary muscle contractions, is a common symptom experienced by individuals with MS. Physiotherapists can employ techniques such as stretching exercises, manual therapy and therapeutic modalities (eg heat or cold therapy, electrical stimulation) to help manage spasticity, reduce muscle tone and improve range of motion.

Fatigue Management: Fatigue is a prevalent and debilitating symptom in MS. Physiotherapists can provide guidance on energy conservation strategies, pacing techniques, and tailored exercise programmes aimed at managing fatigue and improving overall endurance. They work collaboratively with individuals to set realistic goals and develop strategies to optimise energy levels and daily functioning.

Balance and Coordination: MS can affect balance and coordination, leading to an increased risk of falls and difficulties with everyday activities. Physiotherapists can implement balance exercises, vestibular rehabilitation techniques and specific training programmes to improve coordination, reducing the risk of falls and enhancing stability.

Assistive Devices and Mobility Aids: Physiotherapists are knowledgeable about various assistive devices and mobility aids that can enhance independence and mobility for individuals with MS. They can assess the need for walking aids, orthotics, or other supportive devices and provide guidance on their appropriate use and fitting.

Education and Self-Management: Physiotherapists play a vital role in educating individuals with MS about their condition, including understanding their symptoms, managing exacerbations and implementing strategies for ongoing self-care. They provide guidance on home exercises, body mechanics and lifestyle modifications that can support individuals in managing their symptoms effectively.

It is recommended to involve a physiotherapist who specialises in neuro-rehabilitation and has experience in working with individuals with MS. They can develop an individualised treatment plan, closely monitor progress and make adjustments based on evolving needs. Working collaboratively with the healthcare team, including neurologists and occupational therapists, ensures comprehensive care and optimised outcomes for individuals with MS.

Contact from individuals or healthcare professionals welcomed.