Rehabilitation is a process that can help you maintain or improve your ability to function with MS and meet your full potential. Rehabilitation programs usually include a range of activities and services tailored to your individual needs. Your rehabilitation program may involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, or vocational rehabilitation.
Physical therapy (PT) helps people with MS improve or maintain their ability to function physically. PT may include activities that work on your strength, endurance, or flexibility. PT is usually given by a physical therapist (also called a physiotherapist). Your physical therapist may also teach you how to exercise safely on your own and how to avoid falls and other accidents. He or she may also recommend assistive devices (such as braces or wheelchairs) and show you how to use them.
Occupational therapy (OT) helps people with MS improve or maintain their ability to do everyday activities such as dressing, cooking, going to the bathroom, or driving. OT is given by an occupational therapist, who may also recommend assistive devices and evaluate your work or home to make your daily activities safer and easier.
Speech therapy helps those who are having difficulty speaking or swallowing. A professional called a speech/language pathologist provides speech therapy. The speech/language pathologist can recommend exercises, diet changes, or devices to make speaking or swallowing easier.
Cognitive rehabilitation may be provided by neuropsychologists (psychologists who study the relationship between the brain and behaviour), occupational therapists, or speech/language pathologists. It offers techniques to help you manage and compensate for problems with memory, thinking, and learning.
Vocational rehabilitation can help you learn to deal with physical and cognitive issues on the job. This type of rehabilitation can also assist you in identifying whether you need any job accommodations. A job accommodation is a modification to your job responsibilities, hours, or environment that allows you to continue doing your work when you have a disability. Vocational rehabilitation can also help you adjust your job description or retrain for a new career.
Other professionals may also be involved in MS rehabilitation, including:
- urologists (who specialize in bladder problems)
- gastroenterologists (who specialize in bowel problems)
- psychologists (who specialize in mental health issues and may help you cope with emotional, cognitive, or sexual function issues)
- nurses (who may coordinate your rehabilitation program or offer assistance with rehabilitation)
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