As the signs and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) take their toll, maintaining quality of life may become more challenging. It’s not uncommon for such changes to threaten your self-confidence and even your feelings of self-worth. Despite your condition, you can manage your stress and using mobility aids, to stay mobile, active, and regain some of your independence.
A range of tools and devices may help you stay active and productive as you begin to cope with the symptoms of MS. These devices include:
Bathing and Showering Devices
People with MS may find using tub and wall bars helpful as a way of getting into and out of showers while maintaining your balance.
Tools that help minimize muscle and limb movement are very helpful when dealing with symptoms of MS. For example, an electric can opener will prevent the need for twisting the knob of a manual can opener. Mixers make stirring food easier than using a spoon on your own. Large-handled utensils are easier to grip than thin ones.
At least once a year after you’ve been diagnosed with MS, ask your occupational therapist to clear you for driving. Some people with MS may be advised not to drive because of a lack of coordination or an inability to safely manage a car. If you are cleared to drive, there are devices that can help you drive more safely. These include hand controls and low-energy steering wheels.
Buttons, zippers, and hooks may be difficult to manage if you have MS. Try to use Velcro or large snaps when possible.
Cleaning your house may involve lifting heavy vacuum cleaners, bending down to scrub floors, or holding thin wands to dust or wash surfaces. Putting heavy equipment on wheels may cut down on some of the problems, and handle extenders can make handles longer and bigger so they’re easier to grip.
As symptoms progress, you may begin having trouble walking and getting around without stumbling or losing your balance. Canes, walkers, and braces can help with walking. When walking becomes too difficult or you prefer to move a bit faster, you may look into a scooter or wheelchair.
MS can affect your vision and ability to see clearly. If you are having trouble with your vision, make an appointment with an optometrist. You may now need glasses or another type of reading device.
It’s important to increase the bulk of a utensil grip if you have MS. Get a wide-gripped pen, or add special grips to smaller pens to help you write better.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
Specialists that treat MS recommend patients maintain a low-fat, high-fiber diet. It isn’t that this type of diet has special benefits that are particular to people with MS (the general population is recommended to eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet, too); instead, this type of diet tends to be more balanced, and as a general rule, it provides adequate vitamins and minerals. For people with MS, eating a balanced diet is important because it helps prevent other symptoms (related to unhealthy or poor diet) that may further complicate or accelerate some symptoms of MS.
Most people deal with a certain level of daily stress—whether that’s getting the kids to and from school, work-related demands, or emotional stress from ongoing relationships problems. However, people with MS have an added layer of emotional, mental, and physical stress related to the advancement and complications of their disease. This is especially true as the disease begins to progress and the unpredictable course of MS takes its toll.
Stress can make anyone sick and complicate almost any existing medical condition, but compounded on top of the symptoms and problems associated with MS, stress can become detrimental to your emotional and physical health. As stress rises, so do the signs and symptoms of MS. And on the opposite spectrum, as stress is reduced, so go the symptoms. For that reason, learning to manage stress is important to living with MS.
Relaxation techniques include yoga, deep breathing, meditation, massage or any activity or technique that helps clear your mind, level your breath, and allow you to refocus on symptom management.