Choosing the Right Devices for a Better Lifestyle
MS is typically a progressive disease, but it doesn’t have to swallow up your active, independent lifestyle. In fact, there are plenty of ways to help your body and mind cope with common MS symptoms, although that can be a challenge in itself: with hundreds of comfort and mobility devices to choose from, you may not know where to begin.
Getting to know how your symptoms affect your movements is a good starting point, and then you can take some tips to ease your stress and prevent more serious problems with the right types of MS assistive devices.
How MS Symptoms Work Against Mobility
As the disease progresses, both physical and emotional side effects will tend to interfere with your normal activity – which can have far-reaching consequences on your energy and longevity. And once your walking, coordination, vision, and motivation for exercise are compromised, your will begin to lose your independence. Be mindful of these MS symptoms that can threaten your mobility:
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Muscle weakness
These symptoms may take a toll on your gait or your confidence as soon as they appear, but in many cases they grow gradually worse, and you may not realize their impact until you have a serious accident. So in order to stay one step ahead of your MS, it’s important to watch for new symptoms, but also monitor how your current symptoms are progressing.
Focus on Your Feet
Although MS can affect your mobility in a number of ways, a lot rests on your feet. After all, how you step, stabilize, and propel yourself forward will determine how much you can do in one day, and how well you can do it.
If you suffer from numbness or tingling in your extremities, you may find that you’re dragging one foot or scraping your toes as you walk. This can leave you prone to trips and falls, plus it can encourage a muscle imbalance in your hips (which brings a whole new set of medical issues).
- Orthotics. Custom-designed inserts for your feet will provide better stability and cushioning. They are contoured to fit your unique foot shape, and the support can help to counter spasticity and fatigue that interferes with your regular gait.
- Braces. MS can weaken muscles in the legs, ankles and feet, which will make it much more difficult to step up, support your body, or move quickly. Leg braces that hug your ankles can give you the stability you need to stand up from seated and climb stairs.
- Better shoes. There are a few key features that will undoubtedly help your mobility with MS. Look for a lightweight shoe with lighter tread, a broad base, and sturdy Velcro or elastic shoelaces that allow for a tight fit. Stick with a low heel, and make sure it supports all around – pass on clog, slip-on, and sling back styles.
- Walking aids. When your symptoms begin to affect your stride severely, consider getting a walking aid. A simple cane can help you take the worry and pressure out of daily tasks, and there are different models for different degrees of stability. Be sure to visit with your physiotherapist to learn how to use your cane properly.