Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative and chronic nervous system disorder that causes communication problems between the brain and the body. This immune disease destroys the insulation of the brain (myelin sheath), spinal cord, and optical nerves, leading to the loss of myelin. Over time, the myelin breakdown can cause scar tissue hardening or buildup, which is known as sclerosis. When this happens, the nerves cannot send electrical signals to the brain as expected.
MS symptoms can vary from one patient to another, with some experiencing minor symptoms while others have severe and frequent ones.
What are my treatment options?
Multiple sclerosis has no cure. However, Brooks Rehabilitation offers effective, personalized care to speed up recovery from attacks, manage MS symptoms, and slow down the progression of the disease. Some patients have mild symptoms that do not warrant any specialized treatment.
Treatment options for MS include:
Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis)
Plasma exchange is a procedure used to replace blood plasma. A machine takes blood from a vein, separates the plasma, and cleans it before returning it to the body. They combine the blood cells with albumin (protein solution). This procedure is used when the symptoms are new, severe, and are not responding to steroids.
Corticosteroids, such as intravenous methylprednisolone and oral prednisone, can be prescribed to minimize nerve inflammation. Side effects may include increased blood pressure, insomnia, mood swings, high blood glucose levels, and fluid retention.
An MS relapse is a flare-up of symptoms accompanied by the appearance of new symptoms. Relapses happen because of new areas of inflammation or inflammation of existing lesions. Relapses usually come after hours or days and can last for several days or weeks.
A patient might also experience pseudo-exacerbations, which are temporally worsening of the problem caused by stress, heat, and fatigue. However, if the underlying causes of the symptoms are eliminated or reduced, the MS symptoms should decrease.
Steroid-based treatment for MS could include:
- Steroid injection medicine delivered in an infusion center or outpatient clinic for three to five days
- A five-day course of steroid tablets taken at home
Physical therapy can also help control MS. This involves exercises to improve a patient’s gait and strengthen their muscles, balance, and coordination. It also entails stretches to help prevent muscle spasms and maintain mobility.
Physical therapy can also train patients to use mobility aids like a wheelchair, cane, or walker. Brooks Rehabilitation has a specialty wheelchair clinic to support patients with conditions like MS.
Although physical therapy is important at every stage of MS, the condition’s stage will determine your specific PT goals. Those stages include:
Initially, physical therapy involves educating the patient about the therapy, examining the person’s fitness levels, and identifying areas for improvement.
When the patient is not experiencing a relapse, the physical therapist can play a passive role. During this period, staying consistent with workouts is important to increase physical functioning and build strength.
Relapse & Flare-Up
During and after a relapse, one may face difficulty performing everyday tasks. Physical therapy will focus on helping patients to regain their physical function. The therapist will conduct a new physical examination and create a program to help them regain optimal functioning.
Progressive MS leads to a sharp decline in physical mobility as the condition worsens. A physical therapist mainly focuses on physical activities and exercise. They’ll also create programs or reduce the intensity and frequency of sessions based on the patient’s abilities and needs.
Medication for MS
Although MS has no cure, there are some medications that can help slow its progression and manage the symptoms. Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) can be taken by injection or orally. Both injectable and oral medications have their benefits and potential side effects.
Self-injectable medications are ideal for long-term treatment. Most of these injectables can cause swelling, redness, and pain in the injected spots. Intravenous infusion is another type of injectable option. Infusions are administered directly into a vein instead of getting into the patient’s system subcutaneously or intramuscularly.
Oral medications are easy to administer, but one needs to maintain a regular schedule. Therefore, the best alternative is getting a therapist to help during the process.
Start Your Journey to Recovery at Brooks Rehabilitation
At Brooks Rehabilitation, we take a collaborative and comprehensive approach to treating MS. Our specialists work together to create a personalized care program and offer world-class care for patients. If you are living with MS or are developing symptoms, contact us to learn more about our evidence-based treatments, expert physicians, and our Adaptive Wellness Program.