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  • Joel J. Digris, MSPT, Owner Achieva Rehabilitation

The Benefits of Exercise Guided by a Physical Therapist for Multiple Sclerosis

physical therapist working with a woman with multiple sclerosis to improve balance

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness that affects the central nervous system, leading to a variety of physical and cognitive symptoms. For individuals with MS, maintaining functional mobility and overall health can be challenging. However, exercise guided by a physical therapist can offer significant benefits. At Achieva Rehabilitation, we specialize in providing personalized, in-home physical therapy that helps individuals with MS manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Benefits of Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis

Improved Mobility and Strength: Exercise helps enhance muscle strength and flexibility, which are crucial for maintaining mobility. Physical therapists design specific exercises to target muscle groups that are weakened or affected by MS, helping patients move more freely and confidently.

Better Balance and Coordination: MS often impacts balance and coordination, increasing the risk of falls. Through tailored balance exercises, physical therapists can help improve stability and coordination, making daily activities safer and easier.

Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or cycling, improve heart health and overall stamina. For individuals with MS, this can mean increased energy levels and endurance, which are essential for completing everyday tasks.

Reduced Fatigue: While fatigue is a common symptom of MS, regular exercise has been shown to reduce feelings of tiredness. Physical therapists can guide patients through low-impact aerobic exercises that boost energy without overexertion.

Pain Management: Exercise can help manage pain associated with MS by reducing muscle stiffness and improving joint flexibility. Stretching and strengthening exercises prescribed by a physical therapist can alleviate discomfort and enhance overall physical function.

Mental Health Benefits: Engaging in regular physical activity can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are common in individuals with MS. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters, contributing to better mental health.

Concerns with Engaging in an Exercise Program

Overexertion: One of the primary concerns for individuals with MS is overexertion, which can lead to increased fatigue and exacerbate symptoms. It is essential to follow a program tailored to one’s abilities and limits. Physical therapists at Achieva Rehabilitation create personalized exercise plans that consider the patient's current fitness level and symptom severity.

Heat Sensitivity: Many people with MS are sensitive to heat, which can worsen symptoms. Exercise programs should incorporate cooling strategies, such as exercising in a cool environment, wearing lightweight clothing, and staying hydrated.

Risk of Injury: Due to balance and coordination issues, there is a heightened risk of falls and injuries during exercise. Physical therapists guide patients through safe and controlled movements, ensuring that exercises are performed correctly to minimize injury risks.

Concerns with Not Participating in an Exercise Program

Decreased Mobility: Without regular exercise, individuals with MS may experience a decline in muscle strength and flexibility, leading to reduced mobility and independence.

Increased Fatigue: Lack of physical activity can lead to higher levels of fatigue. Regular exercise helps combat this by boosting energy levels and improving overall stamina.

Worsening Symptoms: Inactivity can lead to increased stiffness, pain, and other MS-related symptoms. Exercise helps manage these symptoms by keeping the body active and flexible.

Negative Impact on Mental Health: Not participating in an exercise program can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining good mental health and overall well-being.

Tips and Strategies for Managing Functional Mobility with MS

Consistency is Key: Engage in regular exercise, but listen to your body and avoid overexertion. Aim for consistent, moderate activity rather than intense workouts.

Work with a Physical Therapist: A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise plan that addresses your specific needs and limitations, ensuring you get the most benefit from your efforts.

Stay Cool: Exercise in a cool environment and use cooling strategies to manage heat sensitivity. Hydrate well and take breaks as needed.

Incorporate Balance Exercises: Balance exercises are crucial for preventing falls and improving stability. Simple exercises like standing on one foot or walking heel-to-toe can be very beneficial.

Stretch Regularly: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine to reduce muscle stiffness and improve flexibility.

Use Adaptive Equipment: Adaptive equipment, such as canes or walkers, can help maintain mobility and safety during exercise and daily activities.

Rest When Needed: Allow yourself to rest and recover. Pacing yourself and taking breaks can help manage fatigue and prevent overexertion.

At Achieva Rehabilitation, our in-home physical therapy program is designed to provide personalized, one-on-one care that addresses the unique challenges faced by individuals with MS. Our goal is to help you maintain your independence, improve your quality of life, and manage your symptoms effectively. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your journey to better health.

This is what can happen when you exercise when you have MS:


Click HERE for more info about the Achieva Rehabilitation In-Home Physical Therapy Program


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