Staying Mobile - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Staying Mobile

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Effective symptom management

Ongoing management of symptoms caused by MS is essential for maintaining mobility, productivity and involvement. Many MS symptoms can interfere with mobility, including fatigue, spasticity, dizziness and vertigo, pain, numbness, and problems with walking, coordination, and vision, among others. Even depression, which is very common in MS, can interfere with a person’s ability to stay mobile and active.
 
Talking with the healthcare team about symptoms and the impact of those symptoms on one’s personal goals and priorities, is the starting point for staying active.

Mobility aids

Mobility aids can help you get where you want to go while conserving energy and preventing falls. Learn how to choose the aid that is right for you and meet the rehabilitation professionals who can assess your needs and recommend the most appropriate aid(s). Mobility aids can:

  • Make shopping trips manageable and visits to a museum or zoo a pleasure
  • Make a new sport possible or reopen the door to an old favorite. People in scooters and wheelchairs bowl, fish, and play golf, tennis or basketball.
  • Enable you to go places without having to rely on others.
  • Prevent falls and show others that the problem is medical—not substance abuse.

Automobile adaptations

When symptoms of MS such as fatigue, weakness, incoordination, sensory changes in the feet or hands, vision problems or cognitive changes interfere with driving safely, an occupational therapist or other driving specialist can assess your needs and recommend adaptations and tools (.pdf) and automobile and van modifications to help keep you driving as long as possible.

Assistance animals

Service dogs can be trained to perform an impressive range of tasks, including:

  • guiding
  • alerting to sounds
  • opening and closing doors
  • retrieval
  • pulling wheelchairs
  • providing balance support
  • turning lights on and off and more

Here are some things you should consider if you're thinking about getting a service dog:

  • Do you have the funds, time, and support to meet your service dog’s needs?
  • Are you able to exercise a dog and clean up after him or her? Do you have a reliable person willing to do this when you can’t—come rain, snow, sleet, hail, summer heat, or an MS flare?
  • Do you have or can you raise funds to pay for regular veterinary care, as well as food, accessories, and training aids? If funds are tight, have you researched potential financial resources? (Help may be available.)
  • Will you be consistent in working with your service dog and use the training techniques you will learn? Can you be patient if a training routine is not going well, and figure out ways to turn it around?
  • Are you willing to make a ten-year, or more, commitment to a dog?

To help you think about whether a service dog may help you improve your mobility, contact  Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of not-for-profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs, or Paws with a Cause.

Assistance Animals Resources

Assistance Dogs International
Provides an online directory of ADI-accredited assistance dog programs throughout the world.
 
Paws with a Cause
Trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities and provides lifetime team support, which encourages independence.
   
Assistance Dog United Campaign
Provides financial assistance in the form of vouchers to individuals with disabilities who wish to obtain an assistance dog.

Video Series

Choosing the Mobility Device that's Right for You

Two part video series featuring Jean Minkel, Senior Vice President of Rehabilitation Services, at the Independent Care System of NY addresses the importance of selecting the wheeled mobility device that best fits your needs.

Part 1:  The Assessment

Part 2: Wheeled Mobility Options

To activate the closed captions when playing the videos on YouTube, click on the CC button on the toolbar that appears below the video, and select on.

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Video Series

Getting There: Staying Mobile with MS

Learn mobility strategies including managing fatigue and spasticity, and the benefits of automobile modifications.

Part 2

Part 3

Video Series

Free From Falls

Some MS symptoms and treatments may increase your risk of falling. Falls can be more than just a nuisance — they could lead to serious injuries. This two part vidoe series offers comprehensive fall prevention strategies.

Part 1

Part 2

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Publication

Minimizing Your Risk of Falls: A Guide for People with MS

Learn how you can reduce your risk of falling. To find out about fall prevention programs in your area, call 1-800-344-4867. 

Read About

Read About

ADA Standards for Accessible Design

These regulations apply to places of public accommodation.

Learn More

Learn More
Publication

Driving with Multiple Sclerosis

Addresses questions and concerns about how MS might affect a person’s ability to drive now or in the future. Includes information about driving evaluations and different types of auto adaptive equipment.

Download Now

Download Now