Getting There: How MS Symptoms affect Mobility and Mobility Options
What does mobility mean to you? Walking through the grocery store, completing a toilet transfer independently, or maybe using a scooter to get to and from your grandchild’s soccer game, because the grass on the soccer fields are unforgiving and certainly a trip hazard. What mobility means to you is simply “getting there” – getting where you want to go and participating in activities you want to do in order to bring meaning, purpose, and fulfillment to your life.
Mobility and movement, like nearly every aspect of Multiple Sclerosis, is individualized for each person with MS and their support partners. Nonetheless, there are some common mobility themes that are consistently challenging for many people living with the disease: challenges related to walking, transferring, and “wheeling” (use of wheeled mobility). Regardless of the mobility challenges that impact you most, it is essential to remember that optimal mobility is safe mobility.
While nearly all MS symptoms can impact mobility, there are certain symptoms that seem to have a greater impact on the quality and quantity of someone’s mobility: fatigue, visual changes, sensory changes (including pain, numbness, tingling, and decreased vibratory sense), spasticity, and muscle weakness. These symptoms do not affect mobility in isolation. Because of the cumulative and fluctuating impact of symptoms, a bit of detective work must be done to determine exactly how symptoms are impacting mobility. For example, difficulty swinging a leg through during walking can be the cumulative impact of muscle weakness, limited muscle endurance, and possibility spasticity.
The webinar will explore options for both medical and rehabilitative strategies to manage common mobility challenges. Managing these symptoms and how they impact mobility may include such strategies as exercise, adaptive equipment, and appropriate medications. The health care team, specifically rehabilitation specialists – Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy – as well as a Nurse Practitioner or Neurologist, can work collaboratively with you to determine what strategies can get you moving your best. Justification and explanation of why, when, and how such strategies can be most effectively implemented will be explored throughout the webinar.
Often, improving mobility and optimally “getting there” does not only include you incorporating different exercises, medications, or adding a mobility aid. Improving mobility may also include changing your environment and advocating for changes in your community. Perhaps, improving mobility is having a rehabilitation specialist, such as an Occupational Therapist, come into the home and identify possible ways to make it easier to leave the home. Or, maybe improving your mobility is dependent on improved accessibility in your community. Perhaps, talking to your local government about ways to improve accessible transportation in your city will make “getting there” and going out easier for you. You can formally become a National MS Society MS Activist to advocate for the needs of people with MS to your policy makers. No one knows your needs or will advocate better for your needs than you!
Please join a nurse practitioner and physical therapist for a dynamic, interactive conversation which problem-solves common mobility challenges related to you optimally “getting there!”