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Keep Moving!    

Suzan Black has lived with MS for 25 years, and learned that “regardless of my disability, staying mobile is the most important job that I have.” Brian Hutchinson, physical therapist and President of The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Edwards, Colorado, chats with Suzan about her tips and insights and shares his own.


photoTake the "Scenic Route"

SB: When walking, rolling, driving, or any method of moving, LOOK, MAP, MOBILIZE: First, look ahead for potential obstacles. Second, mentally map out a plan of action. And, finally.... mobilize.

BH: Know your options. Determine the best route to your destination. It may not always be the shortest distance, but choose the safest.


Call ahead

SB: Before leaving the house, call for directions and ask about provisions for people with special needs (i.e. parking, elevators, ramps, etc), if you need any.

BH: ”Accessibility” is individual so make sure you make your own needs known so that you can plan properly.


photoAllow ample time

SB: It is much less stressful to arrive early than to feel panicked because you are late. Build in plenty of extra time in your date book for a "leisurely" journey. Bring along a book or something you can do while waiting if you arrive early.


photoCollect a variety of mobility devices (cane, walker, wheelchair, scooter, etc.)

SB: Mobility aids don't have to be boring. Get yourself a device that expresses your personality.

BH: Your health care team (specifically rehabilitation professionals) can identify the appropriate assistive devices for you, taking into consideration your different needs and purposes, ergonomics, size, and other factors.

For information on assistive devices, click here.



"I Want to Hold Your Hand"

SB: If you are with a companion, it is safer if you hold onto him/her rather than your companion holding onto you.

BH: If you notice that you always need the assistance of someone for walking then you need an ambulatory aid.


Be flexible

SB: Explain to family and friends your need for flexibility in participating in planned activities.

BH: Many people do not understand the variable symptoms of MS, particularly fatigue, so take the opportunity to educate them.


photoPlan a time to relax each day

SB: Read, watch TV, listen to a meditation tape, or lie down; it will help replenish your battery.

BH: Keep a diary of your daily activities and determine where you are spending your energy and when it is best to rest.

For relaxation tips and more, click here.


photoEvaluate and adapt your home/office

SB: Move your frequently-used items to a place where you don't have to reach over your head to access them.

BH: Adapting your environment will allow you to move more efficiently. Consult an occupational therapist for some ideas if you are ‘stuck’.

For information on modifiying your environment, click here.


photoBe the master of your destiny

SB: Don’t assume others know what you need. Be the master of your own destiny! Ask for help when you need it. Don’t forget to say “Thank You.”

BH: Keep in mind that there are often special provisions (reserved seating, accessible entrances, etc.) that may help you access activities you enjoy.


If you are sensitive to heat:

BH: Heat sensitivity can affect mobility. To learn more, go to You CAN Beat the Heat.

For more information on staying cool, click here.


photoGive yourself permission to stop and smell the roses. And BREATHE!

SB: Sometimes we are so focused on where we need to go that we forget to see the beauty around us. Enjoy where you are on the journey. We also need to be aware of our breathing. We can be so concentrated on our efforts that we don’t realize we are taking shallow breaths or even holding our breath.



photoAnd last, but definitely not least, EXERCISE on a regular basis!

BH: Exercise can increase endurance, flexibility, and strength thereby improving mobility.

SB: Call the nearest Society office (1-800-344-4867) about exercise or wellness programs they may sponsor or know of in your area.

The Heuga Center offers the JUMPSTART, CAN DO, and CAN DO 2 Programs at locations across the United States. I personally think that every MS person, along with a partner, should attend a CAN DO wellness program! Call 800-367-3101 or visit the website: http://www.heuga.org/.


Remember: CAN DO! Do things because you CAN!



You CAN! is brought to you by The Heuga Center, promoting health and creating hope for people with MS since 1984, and by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The Heuga Center believes that a positive, “can do” attitude is the most beneficial approach to managing this chronic, unpredictable disease and that despite the challenges MS may bring, you have a whole life to live. We encourage you to visit You CAN! regularly. Topics change every other month.
Written by: Suzan Black with comments from Brian Hutchinson, PT, MSCS.
Contributing editors: Brian Hutchinson, PT, President, The Heuga Center; InsideMS Magazine.

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