Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) can affect your ability to complete everyday tasks at work or home. Over time, your symptoms will change. You may need to adjust your daily routine and surrounding environments to meet your shifting needs.
There are many steps you can take to manage your SPMS and maintain your quality of life. You may want to consider modifying certain lifestyle habits, requesting accommodations at work, tweaking your living space, and more.
Take a moment to learn about some of the strategies you can use to make life easier with SPMS.
When you have a chronic condition like SPMS, healthy habits are essential to staying in good shape and managing your symptoms.
Eating a well-balanced diet, staying active, and managing your weight may help improve your energy levels, strength, mood, and cognitive function. Depending on your current habits, your doctor might recommend changes to your diet, exercise routine, or weight management strategy.
Getting enough rest is also essential when you have SPMS. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep or you feel tired regularly, let your doctor know. In some cases, they might recommend changes to your sleep schedule, bedroom environment, or medication regimen.
It’s also important to avoid tobacco smoke to limit your symptoms and promote overall health. If you smoke, ask your doctor for tips and resources to help you quit.
If you’ve been losing your balance, tripping, or finding it difficult to stand or walk, let your doctor or rehabilitation therapist know. They might make changes to your medication regimen, recommend rehabilitation exercises, or encourage you to use a mobility support device.
For example, you might benefit from using:
- a type of brace known as an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO)
- a functional electrical stimulation device, which helps activate muscles in your leg
- a cane, crutches, or walker
- a scooter or wheelchair
Using one or more of these devices may help prevent trips and falls, reduce fatigue, and increase your activity level. This can have a noticeable effect on your fitness and quality of life.
You can make adjustments to your living space to help manage symptoms of SPMS you may have. Things like vision loss, impaired mobility, and other challenges can make it hard to get around even the most familiar areas.
For example, it might help to:
- Get rid of any belongings you no longer need or want. Reducing clutter can make it easier to find what you’re looking for and take care of your home.
- Organize storage spaces to make frequently used items accessible. This is especially important if you find it difficult to scale stairs, reach high spaces, or lift heavy objects.
- Adjust the positioning of furniture, carpets, and other items to ensure that you have a clear path to walk through or navigate with your wheelchair.
- Mount grab bars or handrails in your bathroom, bedroom, and other spaces to help you stand up, sit down, and move around safely.
- Replace or elevate low beds, chairs, and toilet seats to make them easier to rise from. If you use a wheelchair, you may also need to adjust the height of tables, countertops, light switches, telephones, and other areas or objects.
- Install ramps, lifts, or electric stair chairs to help you circumvent stairs or elevated entryways. Depending on your mobility needs, you might also find it helpful to install transfer lifts near your bed, bathtub, or other areas.
Many other changes can be made to your living space to make it safer, more comfortable, and easier to navigate with SPMS. For more tips and resources, talk to your occupational therapist. They can also help you learn about modifications for your vehicles.
Just like your home, many adjustments can be made to your workplace to make it safer and more comfortable for someone with SPMS.
In the United States, many employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. For example, your employer might be able to:
- adjust your role or responsibilities at work
- transition you from full-time to part-time work
- give you extra time off for medical appointments or sick leave
- allow you to work from home on an occasional or regular basis
- move the location of your desk or parking spot to make it more accessible
- install grab bars in the restrooms, ramps at the entrances, or mechanized door openers
Your right to accommodation depends on your specific employer and disability status.
If you live and work in the United States, you can find more information about your rights through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network.
These are just a few of the strategies you can use to adapt to your needs with SPMS.
For more tips and resources, talk to your doctor, occupational therapist, or other members of your healthcare team. They can help you learn how to adjust your daily habits and environments. They may also recommend assistive devices or other tools to help you complete daily tasks.