Multiple sclerosis doesn’t stop you from living a better life
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition. While normally your immune system is designed to protect your body, an autoimmune condition is one in which your immune system attacks healthy tissues in your body. In multiple sclerosis, your immune system attacks, wears-off, and breaks-down the coating that protects your nerves. This coating is called myelin. The wearing-off of myelin disrupts the flow of signals between your brain and your body. With time, the nerve gets irreversibly damaged.
Multiple sclerosis has many signs and symptoms. Symptoms experienced by the patient depends on the extent to which the nerves have been damaged and the particular nerves affected by the disease. The rate at which symptoms progress depends upon the type and severity of multiple sclerosis you have.
The good news is that multiple sclerosis does not stop you from living a healthy and happy life. There are effective ways of adapting to your diagnosis, and occupational therapy can help you learn these adaptive techniques to maximize your daily function and quality of life.
What are the benefits of occupational therapy for multiple sclerosis patients?
With occupational therapy, you will be able to take better care of yourself even when living with multiple sclerosis. Let’s look at some ways in which you can benefit from occupational therapy for multiple sclerosis.
Occupational therapy helps with daily activities
A primary goal of occupational therapy is to help you live independently. Patients with multiple sclerosis find it hard to perform routine activities. However, an occupational therapist will give you the tools you need to perform your daily tasks with greater efficiency.
Tasks in this category include:
- Using the restroom
- Meal preparation
- Getting dressed
MS patients experiencing memory challenges will find this especially helpful. It is also helpful to patients whose sense of organization has been affected.
Your occupational therapist will regularly check on you to determine if you are experiencing problems with your memory or if you are finding it hard to concentrate. If it is discovered that you having any such cognitive issue, your therapist will help you establish effective skills, tools, and techniques to compensate for the limitations you are facing.
You may be asked to undergo computerized cognitive training. You will also be taught how to use smartphone apps, such as apps that can act as reminders for important tasks and events.
Multiple sclerosis patients find it hard to conserve their energy and may experience physical exhaustion. The inability to efficiently harness energy may cause a flaring of your MS symptoms or worsens already-flared MS symptoms, which can become very worrisome due to the great difficulty of recovering to an unflared state.
Your occupational therapist can teach you how to conserve your energy, or how to use it in the most efficient and beneficial ways. They will also assist you in identifying techniques and tools that can ease your daily tasks and reduce stress.
Improves strength and coordination
Many MS patients have weak hands. As such, they find it hard to coordinate any activities that involve the hands. Tasks as simple as buttoning a shirt can become very challenging. But an occupational therapist can guide you. They will teach you simple exercises – exercises that can boost your strength and improve your hand’s range of motion.
How do you know that you need occupational therapy?
Not every MS patient necessarily requires an occupational therapist. Your doctor or physical therapist will evaluate your condition and let you know if occupational therapy is best for you. You can also always contact Virtual Therapy Partners to discuss your condition with a therapist and see if occupational therapy will be beneficial for you.
You may likely need an occupational therapist if your symptoms:
- Impact your ability to carry out daily tasks,
- Affect your productivity at school or work,
- Prevent you from living a normal life.
Mayo Clinic staff. (2017). Multiple sclerosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350269
Occupational therapy and multiple sclerosis. (n.d.). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4440-occupational-therapy-at-mellen-center
Ghasemi N, Razavi S, Nikzad E. Multiple Sclerosis: Pathogenesis, Symptoms, Diagnoses, and Cell-Based Therapy. Cell J. 2017;19(1):1-10. doi:10.22074/cellj.2016.4867
Sadan O, Shemesh N, Cohen Y, Melamed E, Offen D. Adult neurotrophic factor-secreting stem cells: a potential novel therapy for neurodegenerative diseases. Isr Med Assoc J. 2009;11(4):201–204.
Let’s define occupational therapy
Occupational therapy is an aspect of healthcare that helps patients or individuals with disabilities live an independent and productive life.
While there are some similarities and overlaps between occupational therapy and physical therapy, they do focus on different therapeutic areas of life improvement with disease. Physical therapy seeks to improve your physical strength, range of motion of your joints, motor skills, and coordination. On the other hand, occupational therapy focuses your functional and adaptive abilities to effectively and efficiently carry-out your activities of daily living, favorite hobbies, and cognitive and social needs independently and with ease.
Your occupational therapist will help you to live a better life even if you are disabled or ill. The therapist assists you in improving the skills that you need to perform your daily tasks and/or guides you in finding better ways of performing tasks.
Services performed by the occupational therapist include:
- Guiding you as you perform various activities of daily living like cooking, showering, or wearing your clothes.
- Inspecting your work and home environment. The goal is to find out if there are any potential hazards in your environment. They will also help create a better environment for you if your current one does not adequately suit your needs.
- Recommending assistive devices or special equipment that can aid you at work, school, or home for daily task completion and productivity.
- Teaching you the right way to use adaptive equipment. Examples of adaptive equipment include wheelchairs, braces, or orthotics.
- Assisting in daily planning, scheduling, or budgeting.
- Guiding you on stress-management skills.
- Recommending physical activities or exercises that can enhance coordination, mental alertness, or motor skills.