Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) where your immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the nerve fibers and causes decreased ability of your brain to communication with the rest of your body. Over time, multiple sclerosis can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
There is no cure for multiple sclerosis; however, physical therapy rehab can help speed recovery after an attack and assist with management of symptoms. Multiple sclerosis signs and symptoms may vary greatly from person to person and over the course of the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis will often affect movement and symptoms may include the following:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs (typically occurs on one side of your body at a time or can occur in the legs and trunk)
- Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
- Lack of coordination or unsteady gait with decreased balance
- Vision problems are also common, including: partial or complete loss of vision (usually in one eye at a time), pain during eye movement, prolonged double vision, blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness & vertigo (vestibular involvement may occur)
- Tingling or pain in different parts of your body
- Problems with sexual, bowel and bladder function
Balance Solutions physical therapists perform a comprehensive evaluation to assess what areas are affected after an exacerbation of MS. Reassessments are performed after any exacerbations to re-evaluate current function, including sensation, oculomotor exam (control of eye movement), videonystagmography (inner ear function), reflexes, range of motion, strength, flexibility, functional mobility, coordination, gait & balance assessment, and issues related to maintaining function and independence with ADLs. Following a thorough assessment, a personalized plan of care with goals will be constructed specifically to meet your individual needs and achieve your maximal functional potential. Therapists can help you regain the functions you lost due to an exacerbation, enabling you to increase your independence. Intervention can lead to an improved quality of life, not only for you but others around you.