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Rehabilitation at BMC for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Rehabilitation at BMC for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Neuro rehab services, including physical and occupational therapy, can make a difference in the lives of patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In this Q&A with Janet Wright, MSOT, FAOTA, Outpatient Supervisor of Rehab Therapies; Alison Hinsberger, DPT; and Cheryl Anderson, OTR at BMC, learn the benefits that physical and occupational therapy can provide and how to enter one or both of the programs.

1. What neuro rehab services does BMC offer for patients with MS? We offer both physical and occupational therapy. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning with an emphasis on activity pacing. Equipment training, such as the correct use of a cane, walker, or wheelchair is also taught. We will also help patients with their gait – walking quality and endurance, as well as teach them exercises tailored to their specific needs and goals. Safety training is also a priority for patients.

In occupational therapy, we focus on the patient’s needs, wants, or what they are expected to do in terms of daily activities of living, work, leisure, or activities the patient considers to be meaningful. To accomplish this, OT will consider an individual’s performance in terms of cognition, functional mobility, and range of motion, strength, coordination, functional balance, fine motor skills, dexterity skills, and psychological issues. Education in activities of life adaptations and environmental adaptations, use of assistive devices, energy conservation (when appropriate), and education regarding modification of one’s home or work environment is also provided.

2. What type of exercises are done? Various restrictive exercises through functional activity in various ranges of movement are performed. Dependent upon the degree of the disease process, isotonic, isometrics, concentric, and eccentric exercises may be required to perform a specific task or activity. Occupational therapy also involves the use of purposeful and meaningful activities to achieve therapy goals.

3. How long do appointments last/how often do patients visit? Typically, patients are scheduled for 45 minute treatment sessions. A patient’s tolerance level for activity on a given day may vary, and in cases of lower tolerance, patient and family education can be the greater focus for the appointment. Patients typically attend 1-2x a week depending on endurance and time of year (some patients with MS have more difficulty in the summer months).

4. How does neuro rehab therapy make a difference in a patient’s life? What are the benefits and results? Occupational therapy assists the patient in adapting to the changing process of MS, allowing them to maintain a maximum level of independence in areas of self-care, care of others, homemaking tasks, work, etc. It helps clients and their families continue to participate in activities of choice or to make appropriate changes. Neuro rehab can improve safety and independence with home and community access, as well. Patients learn valuable education regarding activity pacing and home/gym based exercise programs for long-term management of MS.

5. Who is the best candidate? The best candidate is motivated to attend sessions regularly, and is committed to making time for consistent home exercises. Overall, patients of all mobility levels are appropriate!

6. How do patients enter the program? Patients can discuss their difficulties and goals with their primary care physicians or neurologists who can then send a PT or OT referral to the outpatient rehab department if a patient is functioning below their normal baseline.

7. How long is the wait time before patients can be seen? Patients are typically scheduled for an appointment within four weeks depending upon the patient’s availability.

For more information, email the Rehab Therapies department at [email protected] or to schedule an appointment, call 617.638.7869.