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Staying Well During the COVID-19 Pandemic: MS Researchers Speak Out

October 1, 2020

Staying well has never been more important for people living with MS, say a group of MS rehabilitation researchers in a newly published editorial, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts lifestyle habits and coping resources. The researchers – representing the National MS Society’s Wellness Research Work Group – present tips for people with MS and their healthcare providers to consider:
  • Staying active can improve walking, balance, fatigue, depression and quality of life. If it’s challenging now, engage in short bouts of physical activity inside or outside the home throughout the day. Guidelines are available for ALL people with MS.
  • A healthy diet is associated with less depression, lower levels of disability and higher self-reported quality of life. But you don’t need to overhaul your diet. Try simple changes:
    • Make ½ your plate fruits and veggies
    • Choose olive oil or grapeseed oil
    • Read labels – any food with less than five ingredients is less likely to have too much salt or refined sugar
  • Addressing emotional wellness can not only alleviate the depression that affects people with MS, but can help with MS symptoms such as pain and fatigue. The telehealth boom provides opportunities for people with MS to get these services at home. If such opportunities are not available, however, online self-help strategies are available, such as the My MS Toolkit developed by teams at the Universities of Michigan and Washington.
  • The authors stress the importance of people with MS collaborating with their healthcare providers to discuss wellness options, considering each individual’s financial and social limitations. The National MS Society provides a guide for discussing wellness with healthcare providers.
  • Get more resources for staying well – Brochures, recipes from the American Heart Association, and programs from Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, a non-profit that delivers health and wellness education programs for families with MS.
  • Learn what you need to know about COVID-19
“Health Behaviors, Wellness, and Multiple Sclerosis Amid COVID-19” is published by Robert Motl, PhD (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Kathleen Zackowski, PhD, OTR (National MS Society) and colleagues in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Published:August 28, 2020).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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