MS Patients Say Mobility Is Top Problem
But Surveys Show Many Multiple Sclerosis Patients Don't Discuss Walking Trouble With Doctors
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Speak Up, Help Is Available
The onus may fall on the person with MS or a caregiver to broach mobility
loss with a doctor, LaRocca tells WebMD. "The person with MS and their
partner need to be proactive in terms of raising the issues that are concerning
to them," he says.
In terms of mobility issues, "there are so many different areas to
pursue," he says. Several mobility aids -- including canes, walkers, and
electronic wheelchairs -- are available to help people with MS, he
says. According to the surveys, 32% of people with MS do use some type of
mobility aid to get around. Of these, 37% said they are embarrassed by their
use of such aids.
"The tendency to underuse mobility devices is something we really want
to address in the future," LaRocca says.
The first step is to evaluate the walking problem and identify the best
strategies to improve it, he says. In addition to mobility aids, other tools
are available depending on the problem. Exercise braces or electrical
stimulation can help foot-drop (a compensatory technique that involves raising
the heel on the stronger leg to make it easier to swing the weaker leg
through); time and energy management can help curb MS-related fatigue, and
there are drugs that can slow the disease course as well as treat
spasticity and fatigue, he says.
Exercise can also help improve mobility problems among people with MS.
"Seek out advice for a physical or occupational specialist to help develop
an exercise program," says Brian
Hutchinson, PT, MSCS, president of the Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis in
"People with MS can see the same benefits of regular exercise as people
without MS," he says.
Acorda is investigating a drug called Fampridine-SR, which may improve
walking ability in people with MS.
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