Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation

Introduction

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disease with symptoms that vary widely from person to person. The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. In this disease, multiple scars, or plaques, are produced in areas of the central nervous system (CNS) and destroy, or reduce, the ability of the nerves to function. The symptoms that subsequently occur, when nerve function is destroyed or reduced, vary in type, severity, predictability and frequency of occurrence. These symptoms may include weakness, numbness, visual disturbances, dizziness, spasticity, incontinence or fatigue. While there is no cure for MS, there are many strategies to aide in managing the symptoms and assist the patient in minimizing its impact on their daily life.

For more information about Multiple Sclerosis, please refer to our Neurology Library’s Multiple Sclerosis:  Laboratory Evaluation article and Multiple Sclerosis:  New Developments in Care videos.

Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation

As part of the strategies to manage this complex disease, the techniques of rehabilitation and exercise are frequently used. The physical and occupational therapist is typically called upon to help people with MS maximize their function and independence at home, work and in their community.  A comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation is performed at the first appointment, in conjunction with the neurologist’s assessment. The therapist formalizes an individualized plan and establish goals for the treatment and management of the MS symptoms.

Physical Therapy includes assessment and treatment of gait (walking), balance, posture, general mobility, range of motion and strength. Treatment typically addresses strength, mobility needs, fall prevention, balance, pain management, spasticity management and fatigue management. The physical therapist provides equipment, environmental adaptations, and self-management recommendations.

Patients that are experiencing pelvic, bowel or bladder symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis are referred for treatment to our Pelvic Floor Dysfunction rehabilitation program.

Occupational Therapy includes assessment and treatment of performance with activities of daily living (ADL), upper extremity strength, range of motion, coordination, sensation, and cognition. Treatment programs often include education on use of compensatory techniques, such as use of adaptive equipment, to increase safety and independence with ADLs. Treatment programs also include strengthening and range of motion, coordination activities, spasticity management, fatigue management, vision compensation strategies, and cognitive retraining activities.

Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology physical and/or occupational therapists work closely with our neurologists before and after receiving Botox injections to assist in managing spasticity. Home programs are established to allow a person to continue performing exercises independently, or with the assistance of caregivers, for maintaining or further improving function and independence.