How important is physiotherapy?
The role that physiotherapy plays in both the initial stages of TM and in longer term recovery differs for everyone with TM, but many of our members have found it to be a crucial factor in making progress. You may find that the advice you get at the hospital, from your GP, and from your neurologist varies about the importance of physiotherapy and also about the type of physiotherapy that is recommended. In general, we find that not enough attention is given to the benefits that physiotherapy can bring over the longer term.
What is a neuro-physiotherapist?
We strongly advise seeking a neuro-physiotherapist. Like the name suggests, a neuro-physiotherapist specialises in neurological impairments and these practitioners will be more attuned and experienced in analysing and treating problems that occur with TM. If you can find one that has experience of treating TM patients, so much the better. If you cannot, then a neuro-physiotherapist who has experience in working with people with Multiple Sclerosis may be a good choice.
Finding a neuro-physiotherapist
The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology (ACPIN) no longer maintains a list, but there is a link to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy where it is possible to do a search on physiotherapists with a neurological speciality. If you get in touch with the TMS Support Group closest to you, the leader may know of a local neuro-physiotherapist that other members have used and recommend. Lew Gray keeps a record of several neuro-physiotherapists who have treated TMS members in various areas of UK and our members’ feedback. If you are looking for a neuro-physiotherapist in your area with TM experience, Lew will respond by email if you drop him an email requesting it.
Physiotherapy near to the time of the episode
If you have been paralysed or your mobility has been partially affected, the first wave of physiotherapy is usually from the hospital and is geared to getting you walking again. You may be under the care of the hospital physiotherapists that normally deal with traumatic spinal injury or you may be assigned to a neuro-physiotherapist. Many of our members report that they get adequate help during this initial phase of rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy - on going
Nerve damage can give rise to motor, sensory (banding, numbness, tingling), balance and strength problems and physiotherapy can address all of these issues. There are a variety of techniques that improve balance or calm unpleasant sensations. Muscles can be activated using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and there are also devices that can be fitted to help with, for example, a drop foot.
Even after you are walking again, longer term physiotherapy can be useful to continue working on improvements in your condition. Equally important, physiotherapy can help you manage the way your body compensates for any ongoing issues you may have. Many people find that after years of walking with a limp, they will develop compensatory body posture which in itself can cause pain and limitations in mobility.
Physiotherapy bursary scheme
Many of our members who have sought physiotherapy, even years after their initial TM episode, have reported great benefits from seeing a neuro-physiotherapist. We suggest that you ask the leader of your local Support Group whether there are any neuro-physiotherapists in your area that other members have used and recommend. If you cannot afford to try this privately, the TM Society is operating a bursary scheme in 2015 consisting of two sessions with a neuro-physiotherapist. The aim of these two neuro-physiotherapy sessions is to equip you with knowledge and exercises specific to your needs, which you can then implement at home to maintain the benefits from those two sessions over the longer-term. To apply for the trial sessions, email Lew Gray.