We started our Exercise and Dietary programme for MS patients back in November 2017. We began with initial assessments whereby we spent time with people living with the condition. Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis is a key component of managing the neurological change. However it is not a stand alone requirement. Maintaining energy levels or combatting fatigue are a daily battle. We heard from contributors living with MS about the many challenges they face – and we also had a laugh…it’s not all misery!
The Challenge for healthcare providers
The challenge for healthcare professionals is to understand the condition in a multi factorial way. It is most important that the medical side communicates with the specialist neurological input. In turn it is imperative that both link in with the therapeutic services available. The golden nugget is that all work in tandem – wishful thinking? I don’t see why not. At Personal Health, we are communicating regularly with our local GPs and a number of innovative Neurologists who see great value in a community based approach.
The Challenge for the MS population
In clinic we have heard from a small section of the MS population about job related stress, family and relationship issues, emotional and physical fatigue. While lifting some dumbbells we have addressed fear, anxiety and resentment. We address fears around deterioration in general health (over a chocolate digestive or two). Generally though we just turn up regularly and allow the crew do their thing. They exercise with determination, question with a healthy scepticism and cut us in two with a sharp wit.
Shared experiences are positive
In Personal Health, our team includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy and a dietitian. We share the workload and our collective experience is working well together. For the participants, they are working pretty well together too. Physical issues from compromised vision to manual dexterity and urinary urgency are on the table – discretely. While nobody is shouting the roof down, there is comfort in shared knowledge and experience. There is comfort in laughter and comfort in the handrails on the wall. There is a strange comfort in Mark’s dulcet tones of instruction or Marion’s dodgy Spotify playlist. Most importantly there is a sense of empowerment about taking on MS for the participants.
Benefits and outcomes
We measure change in clinic based on our initial assessments. There is not always an improvement. Similarly there has been very little decline. With a progressive condition one of the best outcomes can be maintenance of the status quo. In our profession, there is a big emphasis on ‘outcome measures’ whereby data is used to measure clinical changes. This gives people feedback around changes in strength, endurance, fatigue and balance amongst other things. It gives us quantitative feedback too and in general the results have been rewarding for all concerned. We are all on this journey together, and it has been a great learning experience to date.