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Learn about rehabilitation strategies that can help you feel and function at your best — staying mobile, active and safe.


In this article

The goal of rehabilitation is to improve and maintain function — an essential component of comprehensive MS care. From the time of diagnosis onward, rehabilitation specialists provide education and strategies designed to promote health. wellness and overall conditioning, reduce fatigue, and help you function optimally at home and at work.

If symptoms begin to interfere with everyday activities, rehabilitation can address problems with mobility, dressing and personal care, driving, functioning at home and work, and participation in leisure activities. Rehabilitation experts can also provide evaluation and treatment of speech and swallowing difficulties, and problems with thinking and memory.

Contact the Society online or call 1-800-344-4867 for more information or a referral to a rehabilitation specialist or other healthcare provider.

The rehabilitation team

Physical therapy

Physical therapists (PT) evaluate and address the body’s ability to move and function, with particular emphasis on walking and mobility, strength, balance, posture, fatigue and pain. Physical therapy might include an exercise program, gait training and training in the use of mobility aids (canes, crutches, scooters and wheelchairs) and other assistive devices. The goal is to promote safety, achieve and maintain optimal functioning, and prevent unnecessary complications such as de-conditioning, muscle weakness from lack of mobility and muscle contractures related to spasticity. Physical therapy can also include pelvic floor exercises to address urinary/bladder issues.

Occupational therapy

The goal of occupational therapy (OT) is to enhance independence, productivity and safety in all activities related to personal care, leisure activities and employment. OTs provide training in energy conservation techniques and the use of adaptive tools and devices to simplify tasks at home and in the office. They recommend strategic modifications to the home and workplace to ensure accessibility, safety and convenience. Occupational therapists also evaluate and treat problems with thinking and memory.

Cognitive rehabilitation

Neuropsychologists — as well as many OTs and SLPs — evaluate and treat changes in a person’s ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember. While these professionals use different evaluation and treatment strategies, they share the common goal of helping people function optimally if cognitive changes are experienced.

Vocational rehabilitation

State vocational rehabilitation programs offer job readiness training, job coaching, job placement assistance, mobility training and assistive technology assessments — with the goal of helping people maintain their current employment or find new employment that accommodates their needs.

Speech-language pathology

The speech-language pathologist (SLP) evaluates and treats problems with speech and/or swallowing — both of which can result from damage in the central nervous system that reduces control of the muscles used in these important functions. The goal of therapy is to enhance ease and clarity of communication as well as promoting safe swallowing and overall health. Some SLPs also evaluate and treat problems with thinking and memory.

Additional resources