By Nancy Reitman, RN, Professional Resource Center Nurse
You’re in touch with the National MS Society (or you wouldn’t be reading this). We also hope you’ve called us if you want to talk one-on-one with someone who’s been where you are now.
But there is one more thing. As a person with MS, you’ll need to move it. At the 2008 Consortium of MS Centers meeting, two researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign concluded: “The cumulative evidence supports that exercise training is associated with a small but meaningful improvement in walking mobility in people with MS.”
|Alayne, diagnosed in 1999
Studies Have Also Shown
Exercise has positive effects for people with MS who have
If you loved a sport before MS came along — any sport from golf to ice hockey — you may be in luck. Call us for help in finding associations that promote adaptive programs in your sport. The chances are that there is one — or you may find another sport just similar enough to the one you loved to take up instead. Even if your sport is too intermittent to work at every week (skiing for example), or too inaccessible (no hockey rinks nearby), you still can develop a habit of pleasure in exercise that is something to build on.
But if you are in the majority, and sports are so in your past or so not in your life ever, you have a challenge. Dr. George Kraft, professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington, says, “You need a prescription for a regular exercise program just as much as you need one for medications to slow down your disease or control your symptoms.”
You may need to ask your physician for that prescription — and for a referral to a physical therapist or a rehabilitation physician — and you may need to educate the therapist about MS. As Dr. Kraft points out, many PTs are trained in sports medicine or how to deal with the aftereffects of accidents or stroke. Ask about their experience with MS. It’s appropriate to invite a PT to contact the Society’s Professional Resource Center at HealthProf_info@nmss.org to learn more about MS.
It’s also appropriate to develop an exercise program that fits your lifestyle and appeals to you personally. The Illinois researchers analyzed studies on exercise, not formal physical therapy sessions.
Conference Calls for the Newly Diagnosed:
Learn about topics of interest to people newly diagnosed with MS from experts in their fields. Ask questions, receive information and get support. These monthly conference calls are toll-free and are open to anyone diagnosed within the last three years, and their family members. Register for one or as many calls as you’d like. The toll-free number is given to you upon registration. Participate from the comfort of your own home! Held the 1st Tuesday of most months, 7-8 p.m.
Worcester: Ongoing - meets the 4th Tuesday, 6-7:30 p.m., YWCA of Central Mass., Worcester. Contact Joan at 508-869-6264
Would you like to meet others in the same situation as you? Join us for a relaxing meal at an area restaurant to talk with other people recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and share experiences and strategies. There will be a health care professional and a staff member from the National MS Society available as well to answer questions and offer expertise. Offered in various locations throughout the year, look for a flyer in the mail or contact the chapter for upcoming dates.
Would you like to help plan future programs & events for those newly diagnosed and their family members? The chapter is currently forming a Newly Diagnosed Council and we would love your input and ideas on what is helpful and needed by those who are recently diagnosed with MS. Most meetings will be by phone, so don’t let your location stop you from being involved! We need YOU!