Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Exercise, Physical Therapy, and MS

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Recent studies have found that physical therapy and intermittent exercise can significantly improve symptoms associated with MS, such as fatigue and urinary complications. A physical therapy regimen was developed by researchers of the Italian MS Society Rehabilitation Center to improve urinary incontinence and retention. The results of the study were presented at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers 24th Annual Conference and the Third Joint Meeting of Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis [1]. The physical therapy regimens were individualized for the 62 patients involved in the study and considered several factors, including the duration of multiple sclerosis and mobility. The Wagner Test for urinary incompetence completed at the end of the study was several points higher than the beginning score. The improvement was surprising for some experts, but could be a major step in controlling the urinary symptoms of MS.

Another study, presented at the same conference, found that physical therapy and exercise can be more effective for people with MS if they are performed with frequent breaks. The study, developed by Herb Karpatkin, demonstrated major improvement in the amount exercise performed when frequent breaks were incorporated into the routine. Fatigue is common symptom of MS, which can make exercising continuously a difficult task. With intermittent exercising, the patients were able to exercise longer without experiencing fatigue, which increases the overall effectiveness of exercising for people with MS [2]. An earlier study, published in the journal Brain Research, discovered that exercise improves cognitive functioning of people with MS [3].

The Eastern NC Chapter of the MS Society is currently working with the UNC-Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy and has developed a curriculum for doctoral students that focuses specifically on the challenges of MS. These challenges would not only include the rehabilitation aspect of therapy, but also understanding the social, emotional, and financial issues associated with MS [4]. By addressing issues such as these, physical therapy can help significantly improve the lives of people with MS.

The National MS Society is also planning to pursue policies that give people with MS greater access to care, including physical therapy. Please share your story with the National MS Society about how MS has impacted your life here. Also stay updated on breaking news, MS issues, and ways to get involved here.

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