With more than 10 years of experience as a freelance health writer and editor, Stephanie Watson has written or contributed to more than two dozen books on topics ranging from obesity to genetic disorders. She is also a regular contributor to several online and print publications, including HowStuffWorks and Cancer Monthly. Watson holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Boston University.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) treatments can now delay or even prevent disability in many people. But if your disease does get worse -- with pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, and vision problems -- it could become harder for you to get around on your own.
So it may be time to add new ways to stay mobile. A few strategies can help you get around more easily and safely.
At 36 years old, Marleigh Brown, an avid exerciser and busy mom of three, suddenly found herself feeling tired and frazzled. Her doctors originally chalked it up to her being a parent, but there was more at play. The fatigue became debilitating at times, and she began losing her short-term memory and ability to multitask. Brown also says she had itching on her arms that felt like spiders crawling all over her skin, as well as excruciating pain and tightness in her hips.
When she complained of...
A physical therapist (PT) will teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles of your legs and improve your balance. PTs can also show you:
How to walk safely to prevent falls
Tips to avoid fatigue
Ways to conserve energy and improve your endurance
Get a Mobility Aid
A physical therapist can also see if you would benefit from one of these mobility aids, and fit you for it.
A brace supports your ankle and foot to keep them in the right position when you walk. It prevents your foot from catching on the floor if you have foot drop, and gives you more control over your leg movements. A physical therapist or an orthotic specialist can custom-fit your brace to you.
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a small device that attaches to your lower leg. It sends out a mild electrical pulse to help your leg muscles contract. FES can help you lift your foot without dragging.
Canes are useful for people with balance issues. A cane with one leg is light and portable. One with four legs will help keep you more stable. Some models fold for easy storage.
Walkers offer a wider base of support than canes. They can help compensate for weak muscles. Some walkers have a seat for when you get tired. Wheeled walkers are easy to push. A walker without wheels requires enough strength to pick it up and put it back down with each step.
Wheelchairs and scooters are good when you need to go longer distances. Power wheelchairs and scooters roll and maneuver at the push of a button. You'll need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, or someone who can fold and lift your wheelchair into the trunk.