MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)

About the Condition

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s cells fail to recognize other cells as part of the body and attacks them.  In MS, the cells being attacked are called myelin, which are a layer of protein that protects nerve fibres in the spinal cord and helps with the transmission of electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body.  The damage to these cells disrupts the transfer of these nerve signals, therefore causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.

Symptoms

  • Loss of vision – usually only in one eye.
  • Spasticity – muscle stiffness that can lead to uncontrolled muscle movements.
  • Disorientation.
  • Ataxia – difficulties with balance and co-ordination.
  • Fatigue.
  • Bladder problems.
  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Pain – sometimes mild, sometimes severe.
  • Loss of muscle strength and dexterity.

Other symptoms might include problems with:

  • Bowels.
  • Speech.
  • Swallowing.
  • Tremor.
  • Cognitive problems – difficulty with memory and concentration.

Useful Tips for Patients & Caregivers

With any new medical condition or disability comes a degree of anxiety.  In patients with MS, this can develop into depression or mood swings.  It is important to have a good level of emotional support for the patient and the caregiver both.  Understanding of the disease and patience while adjusting to these new conditions will be key.  Here are some useful tips and hints to help those with MS and those caring for a person with MS, to adjust to the symptoms:

  • Ensure the person is familiar with objects in their surroundings.
  • Offer assistance with general mobility, or with tasks such as reading.
  • Support daily activities and ensure medication is properly used.
  • Provide help with mobility around the home or when on outside visits.
  • A walking frame, walking stick or wheelchair may help with outdoor activities.
  • Provide general support with day to day living.
  • Develop a rota for preparing meals or doing household tasks to be shared among other family members.
  • Ensure assistance is provided with personal care.
  • If communication becomes difficult for the patient, it is important to remain patient.
  • Developing ways to assist communication may be helpful.
  • Many simple tasks such as dressing and washing may become difficult and mobility may be affected.
  • General support with day-to-day living can be a great help.
  • Help with daily routines, be patient and offer support when problems become frustrating.

SEATING PATIENTS WITH COMPLEX NEEDS

When seating patients with complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis/MS, their needs are often challenging and severe.  Read Martina’s top tips.

READ BLOG

Selecting the Right Chair

It is very important that the chair is adjustable to allow it to meet the changing needs of the person as their condition changes.  Cognitive changes may reduce the patient’s ability to ‘learn’ new products and operations and so having a chair that will adjust easily and can add accessories as needed will ensure continuity and familiarity.

The Sorrento™ and Phoenix™ in particular are designed to suit the needs of those with MS. These two Seating Matters chairs are highly adjustable and accessories can be included at a later date if they are not needed at the initial assessment.  This allows the chosen chair to meet the changing needs of the patient over a long period of time.

Both the Sorrento and Phoenix come in manual and powered options.  Manual adjustment leaves the control of the seating positions to the caregiver. Partially motorized options give the user of the chair more independent control to change the angle of tilt in space and their leg elevation as and when desired.  Fully motorized options give the user of the chair control to change the angle of tilt in space, their leg elevation and the back angle recline as and when desired.

Bear in mind, each person is different and so you must use clinical judgement, knowledge of the patient, environmental considerations and personal preferences before deciding on which Seating Matters chair to use.