Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition wherein the body’s immune system causes damage to the nervous system, thus adversely affecting the way the brain communicates via the nerves to the rest of the body. How the symptoms are manifested will depend on the extent of damage, and in many cases the symptoms could disappear for as long as a few months, only to recur afterwards. Typical symptoms include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, balance problems, fatigue, and chronic pain. Those with severe cases of multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to speak or to walk.
A person who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis would benefit from exercises that aim to enhance general fitness and muscle strength; exercise could also boost a patient’s emotional wellbeing. Here are some of the guidelines to remember in order to use exercise to treat or at least to remedy some symptoms of multiple sclerosis:
- Set a plan with the doctor. It is very important that, when planning an exercise regimen suitable for the patient’s condition, the starting point should be a consultation with the doctor. The doctor would be able to assess the specific situation of the patient and would be able to put together an overall lifestyle plan that would include an exercise regimen. Typically, the doctor will start with simple exercises that aims to increase muscle strength, and these exercises could intensify as the patient displays progress.
- Do exercises while lying down. There are many exercises that an MS patient could do even while he is lying down on his bed. This is specially helpful for patients who experience mobility problems, and those with mild symptoms could use these exercises as their warm-up for other exercise regimen.
While the patient is laying down, he could exercise parts of his body with simple stretching and aerobic movements such as raising his arms towards the ceiling and putting it back down; bringing up his knees to his chest; and raising his buttocks a few inches off the bed.
The key here is to start with a few repetitions, and then to gradually increase these repetitions as the patient progresses.
- Have a set time for exercise. The body will benefit if it can anticipate a routine in the muscle strengthening regimen. Work with the patient and observe around what time he seems most prepared for exercising, and try to stick to this time to exercise daily. Of course, there should also be opportunities for exercising throughout the day (see number 4).
- Look for ways to incorporate exercise in the daily routine. This is as simple as doing 15 counts of arm rotations while the patient is seated; doing arm curls with light weights; and even taking deep regulated breaths in order to exercise the abdomen.
- Let the patient go swimming. Swimming exercises is a very good option as it enables the patient to exercise without putting too much strain on his muscles. It also has the added benefit of regulating the patient’s temperature, since MS patients are found to be easily bothered by the heat.
It’s very important that the patient’s progress by monitored and evaluated in order to assess if the exercise regimen is working for him. These exercises should also be done in conjunction with an overall healthier lifestyle such as getting enough rest, eating a well-balanced diet, and being careful with too much heat. Good luck, and hope this helped!