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Entries in multiple sclerosis (3)

Pilates Tips for Teaching Students with Multiple Sclerosis 

Working with clients with multiple sclerosis can be challenging. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find another medical condition with more possible symptoms. Plus, every single case is so different that it’s hard to generalize what an “MS workout” looks like.

Pilates Pro Newsfeed

Our semi-regular rundown of Pilates news from around the web. Enjoy!

  • Marchioli and Swieczkowski in The Dallas Morning NewsA Dallas-area multiple sclerosis patient is walking down stairs, standing up straight and even wearing heels again, thanks to the Pilates work she’s been doing. At first, Rebecca Swieczkowski at Get ReFormed Pilates in Frisco, TX, had to move Sharon Marchioli’s legs and support her body. Because Marchioli tired quickly, the two would chat during breaks between exercises and became fast friends. “I am just like a liberated woman right now, totally liberated,” Marchioli told The Dallas Morning News. Click here to read their story.
  • The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph introduced us to Poolates (created by American Pilates instructor Rebecca Pfeiffer) which features interesting adaptations of Pilates concepts for exercises in the pool. 
  • While we’re on the subject of “-ates” hybrids, the latest thing in the land down under is Burlates, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph. Burlesque star Rachel St. James has dropped Pilates concepts into movement with a burlesque flair and is leading the Aussie charge in the realm of “boudoir fitness.”
  • Pilates and osteoporosis expert Rebekah Rotstein breaks down myths and shares do’s and don’ts for living with osteoporosis in this CNN video clip.
  • About.com’s Marguerite Ogle brought us this lengthy interview with BASI Pilates founder Rael Isacowitz.
  • Australia’s Daily Telegraph also ran this interesting piece about an Aussie world champion swimmer using Pilates to replicate the performance-enhancing qualities of high-tech “super” swimsuits, which constrict swimmers’ bodies so they don’t drop their hips when fatigued. “It’s not like I’m trying to build muscle there. It’s more trying to teach those smaller muscles to work properly when they need to,” butterfly champ Marieke Guehrer told the newspaper.

Working With Multiple Sclerosis on the Pilates Reformer

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by Mary Kay Hausladen Foley, PT, GCFP

Foley (r.) with a patientPilates instructors know well that the Reformer is an excellent tool to work on strength, flexibility, motor control and balance. For these reasons, the Reformer is also an extremely useful tool for working with people with multiple sclerosis. I have worked with a wide variety of MS patients over the last 23 years, as a physical therapist and as a Pilates Reformer instructor, in association with The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis (the mission of which is to empower MS patients; its motto is “Can Do”). Some patients have such mild symptoms that an outsider would never guess that they have the disease, while others can be quite debilitated it. For the MS population, the Reformer can be invaluable for work on functional changes in areas where motor control or muscle function is compromised.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It is a chronic and usually progressive disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin—the layer of insulation around nerve fibers—in the brain and spinal cord. This leads to a decrease in nerve function, which causes symptoms that vary from patient to patient and in severity, such as weakness, fatigue, spasticity (a condition we’ll discuss later on in this article), bladder dysfunction, pain, vertigo, decreased balance, cognitive deficits and speech and swallowing difficulties. Because multiple sclerosis affects motor control, the majority of people diagnosed with the disease experience walking difficulty at some point. Research indicates that number is somewhere between 64 and 85 percent. In fact, 70 percent of MS patients report that walking is the most challenging aspect of their disease. Within 15 years of diagnosis, 50 percent of multiple sclerosis patients require assistance walking and, in later stages, up to a third of patients are completely unable to walk. More than 400,000 Americans have multliple sclerosis: most are between the ages of 20 and 50, and women are twice to three times as likely to be affected than men. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.

Though Pilates exercise will not change the disease process, it can help people maintain strength and function longer than would otherwise be possible. There are, however, special considerations that a Pilates instructor should be aware of when working with someone with MS.