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How a physio could help you

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Picture of Wendy HendrieThe MS Therapy Centre in Norwich, like many therapy centres around the UK, offers a range of rehab services that could support you to continue living a full, active life. Wendy Hendrie works at the centre as an MS Specialist Physiotherapist. Here she explains exactly what practical support she can offer and the difference it can make.

I work at the MS Therapy Centre in Norwich two days a week. If you have MS you can contact the centre directly or you can be referred by other health professionals such as your GP, neurologist or MS nurse.

Physiotherapy at our centre consists of two integrated services: individual assessments and group exercise classes.

The individual assessment gives us the opportunity to get to know you, identify your physical problems and listen to the issues that are affecting your life. From this we work together to set goals and try out a number of possible solutions. We might try walking aids or splints, or have a look at some of the medications that can affect mobility, such as those for spasticity.

We also encourage people with MS (and their families) to find out about MS so that they know how to deal with their condition on a day-to-day basis.

We often recommend some form of exercise-based rehab. This can help you improve function after a relapse or if you’ve got out of shape. It can also help you stay as fit as possible!
Research has shown that exercise can improve your mobility, balance, strength, coordination and fatigue if you have MS and should be done on a long-term basis.

We know that making exercise or activity part of your life can be difficult so we try to make sure that all our suggestions are tailored to the people’s needs and, also, their personalities.
For example, we have started weekly exercise classes at the centre and these have proved very popular. We’re fortunate to have a large gym with a variety of exercise equipment. Each person works to their own ability with frequent rests and drinks. Friendships form, people encourage each other and many find the social aspect of the group as important as the exercise.

Supporting people with MS to stay active can be a challenge. Diagnosis can be a real shock, and some people give up activity soon after diagnosis. Sitting for long periods can weaken your muscles which in turn might make your MS symptoms appear worse than they really are.

Of course, keeping active can be harder if you’re struggling with fatigue or if you can’t get to local fitness centres. However, activity can take many forms. As a physio can tell you, housework, gardening or even standing to wash-up can all be good ways of keeping your muscles strong.

There is no doubt that staying active is good for everyone living with MS. The most important message I can give you is: once you have found an activity you like doing, stick at it!

Wendy is Co-Chair of Therapists in MS (TiMS). TiMS formed ten years ago as a collaboration between the MS Trust and therapists from around the UK who share a special interest in the management of MS. TiMS members include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and psychologists. They aim to improve services for people with MS within the UK by promoting and developing the role of therapists.

They work as the voice of MS therapists at a national policy level, share and promote best practice and encourage and publish new research. They also organise study days and have contributed to MS Trust resources on exercise, fatigue and posture.

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