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Rehabilitation in MS

Rehabilitation stresses improvement of function— maximizing your ability at work, at home, and in the community. Rehab can address problems with walking, dressing and personal care, using mobility aids, or performing tasks at work. It also addresses speech and memory problems, sexual difficulties, bladder and bowel needs, and overall fitness.

Rehabilitation is considered a necessary component of comprehensive, quality health care for people with MS, at all stages of the disease.

Types of Rehabs and Therapies

Physical therapy (PT) can help strengthen weakened or uncoordinated muscles, and improve balance. PT might include range-of-motion exercises, stretching, strengthening, assist with walking, and the best ways to be fitted for and to use canes, walkers, or other assistive devices. PT can also include exercises to increase overall function and stamina.

GO Physical Therapy: An overview

Occupational therapy (OT) is geared toward improving independence in daily living—energy conservation to combat fatigue. OT include techniques for dressing, grooming, eating, driving, and exercises for coordination and strength.

Candy Stoddard gets tips on grooming Hershey Teddy Kelsey, OTR, FAOTA—
"It's really about teaching people to deal with the effects of the disease. I want to teach my patients strategies, to look at how they plan their activities..."

Read more
GO Occupational Therapy: An overview

Speech therapy improves communication for those who may have difficulty speaking or swallowing due to weakness or poor coordination. Techniques used by speech/language therapists (also called speech/ language pathologists) might include exercise, voice training, or the use of special devices.

GO Speech Therapy: An Overview

Cognitive rehabilitation offers exercises and strategies to improve memory, attention, information processing, and reasoning. Cognitive rehab sessions may be with a neuropsychologist, speech/language pathologist, or occupational therapist.

GO More on cognitive rehab

Vocational rehabilitation specialists focus on retraining or use of adaptations and accommodations on the job. They may work independently or in consultation with your OT.

GO More on vocational rehab


The Society supports research projects dealing with psychosocial issues, management of symptoms, care and rehabilitation, bioengineering, and other topics related to improving the quality of life for people with MS. Read more on these funding programs

Current Funded Projects
 “Locomotor training in persons with multiple sclerosis” (Barbara S. Giesser, MD) Testing a new way to improve walking ability in people with MS.
 “Constraint-induced movement therapy trial for progressive MS” (Victor Mark, MD) Investigating a method of improving motor problems in people with MS.

“Examining the demands of driving in multiple sclerosis” (Maria T. Schultheis, PhD) How aspects of MS may interfere with driving abilities, and how to address this quality of life issue.

 “Improving learning and memory for functional activities in multiple sclerosis” (Yael Goverover, PhD) Testing techniques to optimize the learning of tasks in persons with MS who have cognitive impairment.

More information on:




Carol Wilkerson, diagnosed with MS in 1993, had been prescribed Betaseron, but little else.

In 2001, she discovered she had limited movement in her left leg, increasing difficulty with her left hand, and balance issues. And she learned that her memory problems and fatigue, were likely to be part of her MS—and something she could learn to manage better.
Read more about Carol's therapy for her functions


webcast icon Webcasts
(transcripts available)
MS Learn Online and NAEC present
The Path Back from an MS Attack

Relapse Management and the Role of Rehab

Benefits of Rehabilitation Program

Learn more about these and other webcasts

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation MS in Focus

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation's new magazine

Issue 7: Rehabilitation (PDF)


MS Clinics and Comprehensive Care

MS Care Treatment Team

Treatment Locations
Clinical facilities in your area


Keeping Healthy

Exercise As Part of Everday Life

Illustrated manual provides basic range-of-motion, stretching, and balance exercises for at-home program

Stretching for People with MS
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Stretching with a Helper
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: Mira como PDF


Clinical Bulletin For Professionals

Print out the documents below and share it with your heathcare provider.
PDF format.

Rehabilitation: Recommendations for
Persons with MS

Physical Therapy in MS Rehabilitation


Additional Resources

Information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment


Huega Center

NARIC: The National Rehabilitation Information Center
Visitors can submit requests, search database, read RehabWire, explore research from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation, and more

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

University of Washington —Dept. of Rehabilitation Medicine
depts.washington.edu/ rehab

  Last updated July 25, 2007