More Answers Than Questions for Individuals with MS: Should I “Give In” and Use an Assistive Device?
This may seem like a tough question – but it has a surprisingly simple answer. If you have Multiple Sclerosis, the condition should not be what defines you. As an individual, you have a full and complete life that may include family responsibilities, work, school, and things you like to do. We must acknowledge that just as every person’s MS is different, their personalities, fears, and responsibilities are as well. So how do you balance safety, energy…and life?
Here are a few guidelines and steps to help answer the question:
Identify your choices.
If you opt-out of activities that require mobility due to fear of falling, failing, or fatiguing – do you replace that level of activity with an equal dosage of safe exercise?
If not…then you have your first answer – use an assistive device to choose to move and keep that level of fitness dosage in place.
Consider the effects of inactivity on your psychological health.
When we attend a family gathering, continue to work, volunteer in the community, or participate in caregiving for a grandchild, we benefit psychologically. These particular activities contribute to our mental health by releasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These naturally released hormones and neurotransmitters help us remain satisfied with our lives and reduce the effects of naturally-occurring mental health challenges brought about by a chronic condition, the pandemic, and other life stressors.
So, your second answer is likely – yes – use an assistive device to both successfully participate and to seek out these experiences for your comprehensive health. (You may be left with a question about “which device” – a cane or walker, and how to make that decision.)
Consider a device that is portable (for your car), reliable, sturdy (provides the greatest amount of stability that any assistive device can,), and helpful (requiring a low amount of energy to “drive”).
The mobility device that fits these criteria is the U-Step Walker. Nothing like it exists – there simply is no competition. The U-Step gives your arms the ability to help your trunk, allows your legs to make some errors in placement without consequence, and perhaps most importantly, alleviates fear and gives you peace of mind.
Stay safe AND stay active – for your body and mind, and do so with the U-Step Walker!
Mike Studer, PT, MHS, NCS, CEEAA, CWT, CSST, is a physical therapist and is certified as a neurological clinical specialist. He has been a PT for nearly 30 years, conducting research, writing papers and contributing book chapters on stroke rehabilitation, cognition, Parkinson’s Disease, dual tasking and more. A highly sought-after speaker, Mike has given presentations in nine countries across three continents. Earlier this year he gave a TEDxSalem talk on neuroplasticity, entitled “Seeing the Potential in Brain Recovery.” Mike is President of Northwest Rehabilitation Associates Inc. in Salem, Oregon.