Physiotherapy, exercise and neuroplasticity

Apologies for the anon.

I have had a revelation this week. In the midst of a relapse, which affected my legs, I sought physiotherapy to see if it might be helpful. Physio has not been offered to me as a treatment option to date.

The things I have learned through the physio session have changed the way I think about my treatment options with MS. I was diagnosed 5 years ago, and in that time, no one has clearly pointed out to me, or somehow I have not realised, the role that exercise and physiotherapy can play in the treatment of MS: now, I must stress that I fully understand that some people with MS are not able to exercise, and I very much hope that these are the people who have access to physiotherapy.

My MS has not been too bad until this point, and I’m thinking this is why I have not been offered physio after relapses. I’m guessing it’s reserved for people whose lives are affected much more severely on a daily basis.

But it seems that exercise could help before and when relapses happen - so why isn’t this flagged up to people with MS who can exercise as absolutely critical and fundamental from the day they are diagnosed? Some exercise and stretching is completely cost free and many people might be able to do some form of stretching or exercise that is suitable for them in their own homes.

Until the physiotherapist explained, I realise I did not fully understand how the nervous system worked and how stimulating it through exercise or physiotherapy can be beneficial for MS.

I had no idea that exercising and stretching can not only improve the outcomes for recovery from a relapse, especially in the early stages of recovery where the nervous system is still in healing mode and may respond better, but I also didn’t fully understand that by strengthening my body through exercise, which not only is good for stress (which seems to be the the main trigger of my relapses) that I can strengthen the way my nervous system and muscles work together so that they are in the best possible state to cope with further relapses.

I’m not trying to imply that exercise or physiotherapy is a miracle cure, particularly as some people with MS are not able to exercise, but for something that is far less expensive than drugs, it seems very puzzling that this is not promoted more as part of treatment options for MS.

I would be interested to know if physiotherapy is generally part of treatment options for people with more severe MS, particularly types where there is currently no drug treatment available?

There is some evidence that certain stretches and exercising moves stimulate parts of the nervous system and brain that might be working more slowly due to damage and that this can help. It seems that by exercising we are increasing our potential to stay mobile, as well as the overall health benefits of exercising.

For those who can exercise, I think the first thing that they should be told on diagnoses is to develop an exercise and stretching programe suitable for them, that they can do every day.

I feel so empowered by this new exercise programme. I feel that I am doing something else that could help me to stay well with MS.

The other thing I have discovered is the concept of neuroplasticity - the brain’s capacity to rewire itself after damage. Again, I’m not suggesting that this is some kind of miracle but it gives me hope and I think that understanding the immense power of the brain is very interesting as someone with MS.

Wikipedia neuroplasticity ’ refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behaviour, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.’ This is a really interesting article - I recommend.,9171,1580438,00.html

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FizzW, great post, i see its a few years old, how are you doing? Im really interested in neuroplasticity, did you find any other helpful ideas about how it can help people with ms?

I am experiencing a similar revelation about the benefits of exercise - both for general health and strength (of course) and also specifically as physical therapy for specific issues. Solving some of my issues (foot drop, spasticity) with the MS Gym is making me almost evangelical! :slight_smile:

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I am very interested in neuroplasticity and have over the last 3years managed to change my mindset through a daily positives activity. It has really helped me with my diagnosis.

I hope this links correctly to the thread about Physio therapy.

I saw the Physio team at Aberdeen’s rehab centre Horizons. They encouraged the idea of “core strengthening” to assist with general muscle weakness and instability. I followed a short course of Pilates there a year ago, and have now resumed at my local sports and country club. I make that point as , never mind what is happening with my transverse abdominals, it’s wonderful to be spending time out with other people who do this kind of thing, if you see what I mean. You know, people with normal lives. A reason to get out, dressed in moderately attractive leggings!

So it makes me feel happier (deals with depression). I hope the core strength is improving.

I think that you would be very interested in Trevor Wickens ms gym. Look it up on Facebook. There is s free group but if you join he gives you programs to follow plus special exercises for things like foot drop.

hi fizzw

I just read your post , great post , yes it is so important to stretch and exercise when you have multiple sclerosis, not just for your muscle. It is good for your mood,I have a good positive attitude ,I am always smiling and laughing. I feel by stretching and exercising, has stopped me getting any ms pain. I don’t get any brain fog,I put this down to way I am. I use a Medimotion bike twice a week , it’s power assisted,I user to get 1% assistance by me,I get 20% since I been stretching everyday. I had about 6 chest infection over 2 years ,have left me in mobile. I still have a positive mind ,I always happy and smiling. So yes important to stretch your muscles when you can