Adaptations for Staying Active and Involved
Living with MS can bring many challenges that most people never even consider; however, having MS has also helped many people learn resilience and resourcefulness. As we have learned over the past year, MS impacts many areas of life and function including fatigue, motor coordination, sensory function, heat tolerance, cognition, relationships, emotions, bowel and bladder, pain, sleep and more.
People living with MS and their support partners often create a toolbox for themselves. In this box are helpful things such as: learned techniques, tools and assistive devices, exercises, stretches, modifications, and adaptations. All these strategies allow them to continue to function as best as possible.
It is important to always remember there is more than one way to do things. It can be challenging to accept change and to consider doing things differently. It becomes especially difficult when changing the way things are done might be considered ‘handicapped’. Yet, the biggest handicap can be one's mindset. Limiting your willingness to change and adapt because of how it may look or what people may think can leave you behind and limit your ability to enjoy the great things in life. Accepting change will allow you to enjoy the meaningful things that you have been missing out on. By simply using a shower chair you may have more energy to take your dog for that morning walk. Accepting the idea of using a wheelchair or scooter may allow you to be able to explore the beautiful botanical gardens with your loved one for that romantic date you have longed for. Becoming a volunteer at a benefit run may give you the socialization and interactions that you once enjoyed while running in those races. Wearing a cooling vest at your child's swim meets may allow you to stay long enough to watch them receive their medal at the end of the event. MS can impact your function in many areas but that does not mean there isn’t another way.
Seek advice and input from those professionals who are there to help you identify strengths and weaknesses (literally and figuratively) and can assist you in looking at your life in a different way. This may include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, exercise physiologists, nurse practitioners, neurologists, ophthalmologists, neuropsychologists, and many other professionals. Continue to open your toolbox for those valuable items we mentioned: tools, assistive devices, strategies, techniques, exercises, stretches and modifications, and people that will allow you to engage in those meaningful activities. It is important to be open to exploring the way that you are involved in those activities. Explore something new! Now is the time!
Avoid falling into the "I Can't" mindset. At Can Do MS we want to help you reach for the "Can Do" mindset even if that might look a little different for you. What a great way to start 2021- embrace change and make adaptations to stay active... in your own life and in the lives of those around you!