Over the years, an increase in the number of clinical cases of auto-immune and idiopathic medical conditions has been observed that are refractory to traditional treatment modalities. Proper management with occupational therapy is the only way to control the disabling symptoms. One fairly disabling disease that has affected millions of individuals today is multiple sclerosis and so far no etiology or cure has been established.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that deals with progressive damage to the nervous system as a result of damage to myelin sheath of peripheral nerves. The cause of multiple sclerosis is not yet established. It may occur at any age; however, most cases are reported between 20 to 40 years of age. The damage to nerves causes impaired nerve conduction that slows the transmission of nerves.
This patho-physiologic alteration leads to pain, paresthesia, altered sensation and numbness that starts from lower limbs and normally ascends upwards to involve all parts of the body. If no intervention is taken, multiple sclerosis may affect normal day to day activities by involving all parts of nervous functioning.
So far, there is no cure. Pharmacologic interventions that are adopted provide mild symptomatic relief only in acute attacks. With proper diet modification, exercises and stress management, the intensity and frequency of episodes of multiple sclerosis can be reduced.
Multiple sclerosis greatly affects the performance and physical ability of individuals suffering from this debilitating disease. In acute attacks, the mobility and locomotion is greatly disturbed due to loss of reflexes, poor muscle control, visual reflexes and abnormal sensations.
Occupational therapy can help individuals to perform normally at work, in school or at home during acute attacks of multiple sclerosis. Occupational therapists help in reducing the cost of physical aid and help that you may need in order to perform day to day work at home.
The basic areas include handwriting aid because muscle stiffness and abnormal functioning of joints affect fine motor functioning by hands that interfere with your regular handwriting and other fine motor functions. Depression and stress are not only triggers of inducing an acute attack of multiple sclerosis but also increases the intensity or severity of attack. Stress relieving exercises, breathing aid and other functions help in controlling the symptoms and improving overall functioning of the body by decreasing the intensity of the attack.
According to the functional demands of the body, you may have to change the furniture, setting or physical environment around you to improve your accessibility and reduce the risk of accidents. Occupational therapists help to choose the right type of wheelchair according to the severity of your symptoms. For example, in individuals who have predominant lower limb weakness, a manual wheelchair is preferred in order to retain some degree of upper limb activity; however, in advanced stages of multiple sclerosis, an electric wheel chair is the best option. Occupational therapists also teach the right method of using the wheelchair.
Due to visual problems and in order to prevent the stress and strain on visual fields, occupational therapists readjust the setting of the computer screen and other devices to pose little strain on the eyes and brain. The evaluation of driving seat and seating arrangement in the car also demand an adjustment by occupational therapists.
Overall, occupational therapy helps patients of multiple sclerosis to lead a normal and independent life without needing any help or support from other individuals. In most cases, occupational therapy expenses are covered by insurance companies and you can also join support groups for better health and well being.