5 Types of Rehabilitation Programs for People with MS
Treatments for MS vary from oral medications and injections to rehabilitation programs and complementary and alternative medicine. Rehabilitation programs are often designed to help people with MS improve overall function, including the ability to stay mobile and be able to work. These different types of rehab programs aim to improve fitness, energy management, speech, mobility and memory and cognitive functions.
Physical therapy (PT)
Physical therapy typically focuses on walking, strength, balance, fatigue and pain and can help maintain or improve mobility and function. PT incorporates stretching, strengthening exercises, range-of-motion exercises and training with the use of assistive devices and mobility aids, such as canes or crutches.
Occupational therapy (OT)
Occupational therapy can help people whose MS symptoms include fatigue by teaching them techniques to conserve their energy. The goal of OT is to improve independence, productivity and safety in work and home activities. An occupational therapist will often make recommendations about home and workplace modifications to improve accessibility.
Whereas occupational therapy improves accessibility and convenience at home and at work, vocational rehabilitation focuses entirely on employment-related training. People with MS either enter vocational rehab programs in order to maintain their current job or find new employment. Programs typically offer job readiness training, job coaching and job placement assistance.
MS can reduce control of certain muscles, which can lead to problems with speech. Speech-language pathologists (SLP) can help people with MS communicate more easily and clearly. Speech-language pathology sometimes also includes treatments for thinking and memory.
When a person with MS faces difficulties with thinking or memory, he or she might benefit from cognitive rehabilitation. Treatment may involve neuropsychologists, occupational therapists and/or speech-language pathologists, who help people function if they experience cognitive changes.