After I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the wealth of information and suggestions from medical professionals as well as well-meaning family members and friends on how to stay healthy was somewhat overwhelming. Apart from all the different diets and supplements, regular exercise has proven again and again to be highly beneficial for people with MS as it can help with muscle weakness, pain, balance issues, fatigue, mood and many other symptoms.
Simply signing up for classes at the local gym did not seem ideal though as others in the class seemed fitter and healthier, something that can become discouraging quite quickly when you cannot keep up. Furthermore, despite being engaging and supportive, class instructors tend to lack knowledge of the physical challenges that come with MS. And with support groups often only offering seated exercises, there seems to be a lack of options for people with a low disability level.
Then, earlier last year, I read about Surrey Hills Rehab in the MS Society newsletter. This centre offers exercise classes run by certified physiotherapists specifically for those with various neurological illnesses. After an introductory session with Kim Wilson, who founded Surrey Hills Rehab in 2018, I started attending the neurophysio-led MS class in September 2019. The class offers a mixture of cardio, balance, relaxation and muscle-strengthening exercises.
The fact that it is led by a physiotherapist with a background in neurology makes me feel like I am in safe hands and that I can ask for help and support at any point. Since I am currently working full-time, I also find it very convenient that it takes place outside of regular working hours; this is not always the case for classes aimed at people with specific health conditions – support groups as well as exercise classes – as they are often held in the middle of the day.
MS is often referred to as a ‘snowflake disease’ as it has so many different symptoms and everyone experiences them at a different level. However, we often face many of the same challenges – especially when it comes to dealing with doctors as well as family and friends – so it can be quite motivating and uplifting to be able to share your journey with other people who are in the same boat.
Specialist Physiotherapist in Neuro-rehabilitation