Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is to improve and/or maintain function. From the time of diagnosis onward, rehabilitation specialists provide education and treatment options designed to promote good health and general conditioning, reduce fatigue, and help you feel and function at your best—at home and at work. If symptoms begin to interfere with everyday activities, a rehabilitation team can address problems with mobility, dressing and personal care, role performance at home and work, and overall fitness. They also provide evaluation and treatment of speech and swallowing difficulties and problems with thinking and memory.

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

To learn more about the types of rehabilitation specialists that are an essential part of an MS healthcare team, visit Working with Your MS Healthcare Team.

Types of Rehabilitation Therapies

Physiotherapy (PT)

A physiotherapist will evaluate and address the body’s ability to move and function, with particular emphasis on walking, strength, balance, posture, fatigue, and pain. PT might include stretching, range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, gait training, and training in the use of mobility aids (canes, crutches, scooters and wheelchairs) and other assistive devices. The goal is to achieve and maintain optimal functioning and prevent de-conditioning, muscle weakness from lack of mobility, and muscle contractures related to spasticity.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

The goal of OT is to enhance independence, productivity, and safety in all activities related to personal care, employment, and leisure activities. OTs provide training in energy conservation techniques and the use of adaptive tools and devices to simplify tasks at home and in the office. They will recommend modifications to the home and workplace to ensure accessibility and convenience.

Therapy for Speech and Swallowing Problems

The speech/language pathologist (SLP) evaluates and treats problems with speech and/or swallowing—both of which can result from damage in the CNS that reduces control of the muscles used in these important functions. The goal of therapy is to enhance ease and clarity of communication and promote safe swallowing and overall health.

Therapy for Depression

Psychologists and psychiatrists may be helpful for mood or cognitive changes. Living with MS can cause depression for some, but the disease process itself can also play a role.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Neuropsychologists, as well as many occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists, evaluate and treat changes in a person’s ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember.

Social Workers

Social workers assess social needs and can help refer you to key resources. Social workers can help you navigate concerns related to income maintenance, insurance, housing, long-term care options etc.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Provincial vocational rehabilitation programs offer job readiness training, job coaching, job placement assistance, mobility training, and assistive technology assessments—with the goal of helping people maintain their current employment or find new employment that accommodates their needs.