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  • MS_Navigators
    Physical therapists (PT) evaluate and address the body’s ability to move and function, with particular emphasis on walking and mobility, strength, balance, posture, fatigue and pain. Physical therapy might include an exercise program, gait training and training in the use of mobility aids (canes, crutches, scooters and wheelchairs) and other assistive devices. The goal is to promote safety, achieve and maintain optimal functioning, and prevent unnecessary complications such as de-conditioning, muscle weakness from lack of mobility and muscle contractures related to spasticity. Physical therapy can also include pelvic floor exercises which may help address urinary/bladder issues.

    Have you tried physical therapy to treat MS symptoms? What were the results? What tips would you have for others who are considering this form of rehabilitation? What questions do you have about PT?

  • nerij
    My main question is, I am studying to be a physical therapist and I have MS. I feel like me seeing a PT, as I am going to be one, is a bit weird. I am in my first year of graduate school, so the studying and applications to real life are facinating! But, is it normal for me to seek PT? What are your thoughts on a PT seeking help from a PT?

  • robertjon
    It may seem a bit weird, but I think it will help enable you to do well as a PT. First hand knowledge will give you far more education than whats just found in text books.
  • betty75
    I would like to address Narij’s query about a PT seeking help from a PT.  Jen, I am a PT with MS and would like to address your question on three levels.  First, you are a student, not a PT, so it is likely that an experienced professional would have much to offer that is beyond your current level of knowledge and experience.

    Second, you do not mention of any deficits, so it is not clear that you have any need for help from a PT, at least for now.  Personally, I worked as a PT in acute inpatient rehabilitation, perhaps the most physically demanding area, for over 3 decades after my first symptoms before I had a need for therapy to deal with a significant deficit. Perhaps it was my knowledge of body mechanics and the need for personal exercise that put off the physical impairments and functional deficits that required more intervention, but MS does not lead to significant loss in all patients at the beginning. Therefore, it is not clear if you would benefit from or have a need for PT at this time.

    Finally, I do believe that a PT, especially one with neurological specialization and experience with patients with MS, would be of great benefit to you, even after you become a PT.  It takes another person to really be more objective and to make you push yourself. Further, another PT can give you feedback about if you are letting your response to your MS interfere with being fully attentive to your patients and their concerns and physical problems (an ethical issue).
    When you experience an exacerbation or symptom progression, be prepared that they will give you pause and make you emotional, hence in need of an objective “push” from another.  By all means use your education and experience in PT to be a knowledgeable consumer, my knowledge has benefited me tremendously, but do not think that you can do it without input from a knowledgeable colleague(s). 

    On a coping level, the many things that I learned from patients and their family members regarding resilience, pushing myself, and redefining myself to myself and others when I had symptom progression allowed me to keep my issues in perspective and maintain a positive attitude.  Most of all do not confuse your adversities with those of your patients; they did not come to you for competition or to hear your problems.   

    I wish you luck with your education and your future endeavors.  I loved being a PT and have seen many times how positive a difference PT can make in a person’s independence, function and vitality so do get professional advice as needed.  You will not find your colleagues to be tolerant of any physical challenges at work so be prepared to deal with that. I did not reveal my MS to colleagues or employers for 30 years; the APTA and employers have not historically been interested or helpful to PTs with disabilities. I hope this will change in the future.   
  • Shadow
    I feel that since I am an RN with MS, I can be empathetic and offer suggestions. All MS patients are different and I can learn from them also. I think you will be great as a therapist but would advise not to tell them that you have MS.
  • robertjon
    My first PT on the 12th. I have high hopes of my balance, walking, fatigue and bladder problems improving. Don't know what to expect, but looking forward to the possibility of improvement. Surely, hope pain isn't associated beings I'm not having any presently.
  • christie231
    If you have a good therapist, like I do, they will have you stop and rest. The key is to communicate with them. You will feel sore after, because you will be using muscles that you haven't used in a long time, but that will go away. Just continue doing the exercises at home on the days that you don't have pt.
  • tamnmark4ever
    We are going to the doctor today and going to ask about Electrical muscle stimulation therapy. hoping this will help.
  • putsiecat16
    Just sayin'... last year in November I became septic after some UTI issues (catheters are most likely the culprit :) ) and spent 4 days in the ICU. I had never had sepsis before, and the nurses I talked with told me if I had not called paramedics within 36 hours of when I did, I would have been dead. Well, this scared me a bit, so when they offered me physical therapy evaluation, I said yes (I've always said no in the past). One day I get a knock on my door and here is this lady coming into my apartment... we sit and talk for a few minutes, and then she says, "ok, go lay down on your bed". I said, "what" and she said, "yeah, lay on your bed and we can get started".  I went and laid down on my bed on my back and she took my left leg (the weaker one), locked the knee and started pushing it up in the air... then over to the left, and then over to the right. The whole time I was feeling muscles I had not felt in many years and she gave me 8 or 9 exercises i could do from flat on my bed for stretching purposes, and I have to tell you they changed my life! 

    The bottom line for me is I can't exercise from an upright position for more than a few minutes before I have to sleep, but I can do these exercises and stretches while I am laying flat, and I can get 20 to 30 minutes of workout every other day without a problem. The best part is I can walk better now than I have in 10 years, and even my balance is a little better (though, I can still fall with the best of them ;) ), and I can only blame this PT for changing my life.  I cannot say this loudly enough... if you are on the bubble for getting PT, don't hesitate, it might change your life!
  • fightback
    In 2004 I could barely walk with a cane. I fell and sprained an ankle which got me into physical therapy for the first time. After a couple of weeks of physical therapy everything started to get easier. After 6 weeks I went back to my doctor and he was very impressed with the improvement. He asked me if I wanted more PT and I told him absolutely. I have continued to get a couple of months of physical therapy every  year. I also started doing Pilates twice each week. It took 5 years and by 2009 I was able to discard my cane. I have continued to improve since then. I heartly recommend physical therapy and Pilates. Do all the exercise you can handle. When I overheat from exercise a cold shower revives me.
  • nicholasic
    Having been diagnosed with RRMS for some 40 years now I believe that exercise/physical therapy is an imperative in the treatment of MS. Not only does it maintain levels of fitness which help coping with relapses better, it has very positive pyschological effects. Some 8 years ago I linked up with a personal trainer who studied the disease before we embarked on a programme and he focussed on balance, coordination and mobility as much as the more normal focus on strength and stamina. The result of his training (and my determination - you have to be stubborn about MS!) is that I'm now an endurance hiker completing both The Race to the Stones and the Race to the King in previous years and looking at the Cotswold Way Race - 100 miles in 4 days- next year. So, I'm lucky as I started from a reasonable base without much damage from the disease, and believe that what I have done to keep myself fit and functioning over the years has held it at bay, albeit I'm still growing lesions. I think the key is that wherever you are with the MS just keep moving - walking is good for you.
  • leesimmons22

    I've just been dx with MS and have been having pain in the thighs and hips. I'm also so tired that it is hard to clean and play with my kids. I really appreciated your post and it has pushed me to get connected with a PT here. Thanks for sharing. 

  • christie231
    I go to pt off and on when I start to feel weak. It really helps a lot. I had stem cell treatment back in July and my neurologist put me back into pt to really push me, and I'm doing things that I couldn't do before. I have 2 more sessions and I graduate to the gym. The key is to do the exercises at home to keep the muscles strong.
  • oldhippie
    Well let me start back a few year's ago, my hip was vary much damaged in a car accident, was was sent to PT. I went to her for most of a year two times a week and then with an later evauaion was told that it seemed as all the work we had put in was actualy doing me more harm then helping me.
    So now 4 year's sonce accident/injury things have not gotten any better but I learned to just live with the pain and loss fo me walking with the help of a cane or walker for support. I am not saying that the PT. didn't help, but somethings are outside the ability of humen, and GOD has made this choice for me!
    I have come to understand that some battles are out my hand's (MS, TBI, P.T.S.D.) thing's I live with every day and I have no control over.
  • sheribadzik
    Thanks to one and all who have posted here. I am 62 and although I was diagnosed only 3 years ago with RRMS, it is now believed I was born with it. It has been mentioned many times over the years - but as I was beaten as a child and an adult the injuries I sustained from that have always been the focus. It was actually my eye doctor who caught the MS when she discovered optical neuritis in my eyes. In reading everyone's replies here I saw a little of myself in each one. I have had 39 concussions and frequent falls. The muscle weakness kicked in about a year ago. The fatigue is awful. My wonerdul neurologist sent me to PT. And I never quite understood until now, what it was all about. By nature I am upbeat and have been labeled "perky" by my friends. But I felt so isolated and alone....until I read everyone's words here. I refer to myself as a Survivor - and I truly believe we all are. So again my thanks...
  • lantzsunny2007
    did they send you to PT right after car accident?  
    there should be time to heal, recupriate, rest. i think pt is not the first option and definitely should not be given for a year without several evaluations to see what is happening. they should have figured it out sooner that it wasn't working to help you get better. 
    you should not be having consistent pain
  • sarahnoelle
    I'm so happy this is up for discussion. PT is my lifesaver. 

    I was diagnosed with MS in October of 2014. Last fall, I was dealing with intense pain, fatigue, and tingling in my hands and feet. I didn't know who to turn to. Luckily I have a friend who works at a physical therapy and personal training facility who recommended I give PT a try. Seriously, what a difference it has made. After about a month, I was already seeing a difference. I had less pain and was starting to feel more energized. Now, a year later, I feel stronger and know how to manage my pain in my neck and back.

    Typically during my appointments, my physical therapist will massage any problem spots I may have and then we'll do some stretching. If I have a particular nasty spot, she does dry needling (it's like acupuncture with electric current -- it sounds crazy, feels crazier, but I get great results). If we have time, we'll go into the gym and work on strengthening my neck and back muscles  -- really focusing on muscles I didn't even know I had.

    Again, PT truly has made dealing with my MS far more managable. Give it a try if you haven't already. 
  • diiva1979
    I tried PT and it helped so much once I adjusted to the pain . For a while I was really sore but after a few sessions I started feeling so much better.
  • diiva1979
    I tried PT and it helped so much once I adjusted to the pain . For a while I was really sore but after a few sessions I started feeling so much better.
  • Chug
    I commend you on your endeavor. I wish it was possibel for all professions to have someone on board their staff that had what someone else has. It would help the individuals to be more compassionate about helping someone. Our society gets stuck on what's normal. I stopped being normal the day I came from the womb. That's another story for another day.  Thanks for the discussion topic.