What’s new in rehabilitation for multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system which causes the insulation surrounding nerve fibers to break down. Just like when a wire loses its insulation, when the nerves lose their insulation, known as myelin, they will short-circuit. When nerves short-circuits in the nervous system of a patient with multiple sclerosis big problems occur.
Because multiple sclerosis affects large portions of the nervous system, loss of the nerve insulation can occur virtually anywhere in the spinal cord, brainstem or brain. So patients suffering from MS can display quite variable signs, symptoms and impairments. When the nerves going to muscles lose their myelin sheath, the patient may lose his or her ability to walk properly. If the nerves in the cerebellum lose their myelin sheath, the patient can experience extreme balance difficulties. Typically an MS patient will have a number of different signs and symptoms because the damage to the nervous system often occurs in multiple regions and areas. The good news is that research has demonstrated that many of the disabilities and impairments associated with multiple sclerosis can be rehabilitated and function improved. One promising development in the rehabilitation of patients suffering from MS, is the use of nonsurgical stimulation techniques that can often speed the recovery and enhance the rehabilitation process.
Called trans-spinal direct current (ts-DC), the technique can wake up weak muscles or decrease their activity when spastic. This allows many MS patients to increase their ability to rehabilitate their body. Good news for MS patients.