What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). It is the most common neurological disease in young adults and attacks people at the time of their lives when they are planning families and building a career.
Every day four people are diagnosed with MS which equates to an additional 1000 every year. The average age of diagnosis is between 20 and 40 years of age. Three out of four people living with MS are women. No two cases are identical and the severity and progression of the condition cannot be predicted.
Symptoms of MS
Many of the symptoms of MS go unnoticed by everyone except the person living with them and therefore are easily dismissed or ignored by the community at large.
Managing MS through exercise
In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms:
Exercise in MS patients has proven to:
- Increase cardiovascular fitness
- Improve strength
- Improve bladder and bowel function
- Decrease fatigue and depression
- A more positive attitude
- Increase participation in social activities
- Improved cognitive function and mood enhancement
Benefits of AQUATIC exercises
The unique qualities of water provide exceptional benefits to people with MS. Water helps people with MS move in ways they may not be able to on land. Here’s why:
- Provides support for weak limbs
- Movement takes less effort – a greater range of motion can be achieved
- Promotes muscle relaxation
- The resistance of water can be used to improve muscle strength.
- Slower movement in water provides an opportunity to work on skills such as balance and coordination which may be harder to do on land
- The sensation of compression while the body is in the water. Pressure increases with depth
- Compression can provide support for standing activities, such as walking, with less effort than on land.
- Cooler water can help maintain lower core body temperature even during vigorous activity
- This is especially helpful for people with heat sensitivity issues
How can an exercise physiologist help?
Exercise needs to fit the capabilities and limitations of the individual. It may need to be adjusted as changes occur in MS symptoms. An exercise physiologist can help design, supervise and revise this type of program.
Periods of exercise should be timed carefully to avoid the hotter periods of the day to prevent excessive fatigue.
Can MS be cured?
MS is a lifelong disease for which a cause and cure are yet to be found. However, doctors and scientists are constantly making new discoveries about the treatment and management of MS.
How can you help?
The MS 24 Hour Mega Swim is a fun team relay event where teams have a swimmer in the water for the entire 24 hours and compete for laps swum and money raised, in support for people living with multiple sclerosis.
People of all ages and abilities can take part in the MS 24 Hour Mega Swim with each team creating a roster to suit each swimmer. Some swim for 10 minutes, others for 4 hours! The MS 24 Hour Mega Swim is a competition with points awarded to each team; 1 point for every $10 raised and 1 point for every 500m swum.
You can find out more information about multiple sclerosis at the MS Australia website: https://www.msaustralia.org.au/