Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the central nervous system and can impact your ability to move. While you may not have problems with walking or balance initially, you’re likely to encounter these difficulties at some point. Here are four tips to keep you mobile and active:
Tip #1 – Wear the Right Shoes
When you have MS, wearing the right shoes can make a huge difference. Look for shoes that are lightweight and have light tread. Shoes should cover the entire foot, so avoid slip-ons or clogs. They should also be adjustable for comfort with either easy to tie shoelaces or Velcro.
Shoes with a wide base provide better stability. Also, shoes that are deeper along the sides and back will allow you to wear orthotics should your doctor prescribe them. Most importantly, make sure the shoes are the right size. Shoes that are too big allow your feet to slide inside them, while shoes that are too small can restrict blood flow.
Tip #2 – Start a Fitness Routine
Anyone with a neurological disorder like MS is prone to falling. To keep yourself from falling, consider an exercise program that focuses on:
- improving balance
- strengthening core muscles
- improving posture
As with any exercise program, keep your own limitations in mind. Ask your doctor what exercises are best for you and your condition.
Tip #3 – Use a Mobility Device
While you might not want to use a mobility device, there are times it may be necessary. Mobility devices can be especially useful if you’re at risk for falling or want to stay independent. Being more independent allows you to stay involved and can also ward off depression, which is very common in people with MS.
Orthotics, canes, and wheelchairs are just some of the useful mobility devices for walking. As far as driving, there are numerous devices to keep you behind the wheel. Steering can be easier with hand controls and spinner knobs. Using special seats can help you get in and out of your car. Larger rearview and side mirrors can make it easier to see. Having access to a larger vehicle or van can ensure there’s enough room to transport yourself and your wheelchair or other mobility device.
Tip #4 – Get a Service Dog
Service dogs are a great way to maintain both mobility and independence. Service dogs are specifically trained to help you maintain stability while walking. The dog wears a harness you hold on to, which acts as a counterbalance to prevent falls. The dogs may also be able to help you pick things up, open or close doors, and assist in other daily tasks.
Of course, getting a service dog isn’t a decision one should make lightly. You’ll need to do some research beforehand and decide if you’re able to care for your new companion. You’ll also have to receive training to learn the commands and get used to the dog.
Living with MS doesn’t mean you have to give up your mobility or what you love doing. With these tips in mind, you can find adaptive ways to remain active and keep doing what you love.