I have now completed my third week at the MS Trust and I am pleasantly surprised at how much I have learnt in what has been a relatively short amount of time. My literature search has continued and I have covered a wide range of health interventions for people with MS (PwMS). I have looked into quality of life amongst PwMS, specifically looking at how MS can affect people’s careers, movement, and the economic burden it may have.
Many PwMS find that their mobility decreases over time, which may lead to them becoming wheelchair-, or even bed-bound. Such drastic changes in lifestyle can cause a multitude of problems; from pressure sores, contractures (where a muscle becomes permanently shortened), deconditioning, and even muscle atrophy; immobility can affect much more than a person’s ability to get from A to B. I spent some time this week reading about such issues, and searching for any literature that had been produced looking specifically at MS and similar issues.
Reading about how MS can affect people is one thing, but seeing it in person makes it a lot more real and emotive. This week I was able to spend some more time at the local MS Therapy centre, where I spoke with patients facing the same problems I had spent my time researching. Many had mobility and balance problems, and were struggling with the hot temperatures we have been experiencing this summer. I have learnt that such difficulties with heat are not uncommon in MS patients – many patients find their symptoms considerably worse during hot weather – an occurrence known as Uhthoff’s phenomenon. Fortunately the treatment room in the therapy centre is air conditioned, which made the patients feel a lot better. But sadly some were so adversely effected by the heat they were unable to make the journey to the centre.
Currently PwMS are only entitled to six sessions of physiotherapy every two years on the NHS, and many find that this short amount of time isn’t enough to make a positive difference. The local MS therapy centre aims to address this by providing affordable physiotherapy sessions to MS patients from all nearby regions. But not only do the therapists help to treat PwMS, they are now also working with stroke patients. I spent some time on Thursday with these stroke patients, and saw how much help the physiotherapists are able to give.
My supervisor, who is in charge of producing the toolkit I am helping to collect evidence for, is a physiotherapist specialising in working with PwMS. I will be spending some time next week at her clinic in Norwich, which I am really looking forward to.
Picture to come soon…