A study by Brunel University, London headed by Professor of Rehabilitation and Director of the Centre for Research in Rehabilitation, Lorraine De Souza has found that people suffering with multiple sclerosis (MS) should be holistically assessed when being considered for a powered wheelchair.
In the unique study of 91 wheelchair users, all of whom are severely affected by MS it was found that 15% of them had problematic pain. In total, 30% of the study group suffered from health problems which were aggravated by continual spells of sitting. These issues included severe swelling, osteoporosis, clots and sores.
This indicated that a more in-depth and professional assessment was required before a wheelchair was allocated. It was found that wheelchairs featuring a TIS (tilt-in-space) function were much more effective at relieving some of the users’ discomfort than older models without TIS.
The study also highlighted health problems specific to people with advanced MS. These included stroke, amputation, fractures and chronic joint pain. All these conditions would benefit from a thorough medical evaluation as well as the standard assessment prior to allocation of a wheelchair which is usually carried out by a team of therapists and engineers.
Looking to the future
It was concluded that the current guidelines on MS should be updated to ensure that the risks posed by osteoporosis, obesity, coronary heart disease and deep vein thrombosis are effectively managed from an early stage. This would mean that even though wheelchair users are prone to falls, correct management of medication and diet could reduce osteoporotic fractures.
Currently, MS is treated as symptoms develop but it’s hoped that the study will encourage healthcare professionals to look ahead at those severely affected to see what can be done to delay or prevent life-threatening conditions that could develop.
As a result of the work done by Professor De Souza and her team those with advanced MS can now look forward to a more comfortable, longer and fuller life.
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