This week, CareFlex will join Multiple Sclerosis (MS) communities across the United Kingdom to mark the 2022 awareness campaign.
“MS is unpredictable and different for everybody. Symptoms can come and go and change over time, and it’s difficult to know how your condition might progress. That’s why this #MSAwarenessWeek (from 25 April – 1 May) we’re shining a light on the uncertainty of living with the condition 1.”
For this year’s campaign, the MS Society is supporting different activities and encouraging opportunities for individuals to share their stories. At CareFlex we are committed to raising awareness of Multiple Sclerosis and will play our part by aiming to increase knowledge around the importance of postural care.
Fancy Dress for MS is happening on Friday 29th April. Individuals can take part alone, with friends and family, or even in the workplace. Don’t forget to share photos from the day using the hashtags #MSAwarenessWeek and #LetsTalkMS. Find out more here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/fancydressforms
An Instagram live is also being hosted on Thursday 28th April at 12:30pm; join Cherelle and Elisha to explore MS and uncertainty, at work, at home and thinking about the future. Find out more here: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/virtual-support-events/ms-week-cherelle-elisha-instagram-live
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, also known as the central nervous system. ‘Sclerosis’ means scarring or hardening of patches of tissue. ‘Multiple’ is added because this happens at more than one place in the brain and/or spinal cord2.
Once diagnosed, multiple sclerosis stays with a person for life, but treatments and specialists can help them to manage the condition and its symptoms.
“It’s estimated that there are more than 130,000 people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the United Kingdom.”
What causes MS?
It is not known why some individuals get multiple sclerosis, but more is being learnt every day. It’s likely to be due to a combination of genetics, environmental influences and lifestyle factors. What is known is that multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. A substance called myelin protects the nerve fibres, which helps messages travel smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibres, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques. This damage disrupts messages travelling along fibres – messages can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all. As well as losing the myelin, there can sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres. It’s this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time3.
What are the effects of MS?
The central nervous system links everything the body does, so multiple sclerosis can cause many different types of signs and symptoms, depending on what part of the central nervous system has been affected and the job of the damaged nerve. That’s why multiple sclerosis is different for everyone. Main signs and symptoms can include fatigue, pain, vision complications, impaired swallow function, mental health and/or cognitive issues, and muscle and movement difficulties4.
What postural challenges can result from multiple sclerosis?
- Muscle weakness
- Poor postural control
- Increased thoracic kyphosis
- Posterior pelvic tilt
- Poor sitting balance
- Muscle stiffness and spasticity (spasms) resulting in contractures
- Tremor and/or ataxia (problems with balance and co-ordination)
- Sensory impairments
How can specialist seating help?
The correct seating system can help manage any postural challenges for individuals with progressive MS but also for those who experience relapses whilst assisting with their recovery during remissions.
The HydroTilt offers a range of functions and accessories to fully support individuals who present with mild to moderate postural challenges:
- Tilt-in-space*, if safe and appropriate, can promote postural stability and energy management with the aim of encouraging normal movement. Positioning aids* may be indicated for increased pelvic stability.
- A ramped base can further support the pelvis for security at the back of the chair.
- A waterfall or contoured back can aid postural control and trunk alignment during periods of fatigue or weakness.
- The addition of a tray can also allow the individual to maintain their occupation or hobbies.
The HydroFlex offers high levels of adaptability for those with more complex posture and pressure management needs:
- The flexibility is key for individuals with primary progressive MS or those who develop secondary progressive MS as it can be adapted and accessories fitted retrospectively as their needs change.
- Back angle recline*, following a risk assessment, can promote comfort and relaxation or support reduced range of movement at the hips due to contractures.
- Articulating head support with adjustable wings can support the head in a safe midline position to promote social interaction and optimum physiological function.
- The addition of a pommel can correct or accommodate windsweeping deformities.
- Integrated WaterCell Technology can encourage maximum support with the aim of reducing the risk of pressure injury during periods of prolonged sitting.
- There is also an ergonomic push handle to ensure the person’s support network can safely and easily handle the chair.
Multiple Sclerosis can result in an individual’s presentation potentially becoming highly complex; the CareFlex tailored seating solutions service can develop bespoke chair adaptations to address any postural deformities and contractures whilst always focusing on comfort, health and wellbeing.
As with any postural care approach, the individual’s daily life throughout the full 24-hours should be considered holistically and managed by their multi-disciplinary team. Promoting meaningful participation in daily life and maximising independence for an individual with Multiple Sclerosis is key.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss any seating needs, or book a free no-obligation seating assessment.
Tilt-in-Space and Back Angle Recline should always be prescribed responsibly, ensuring that they are safe and appropriate for the user following a comprehensive assessment of posture and risk, with advice sought from the multi-disciplinary team where indicated. In some cases, these functions will be contra-indicated, and they could also increase shear and friction forces.
All belts and harnesses must also be prescribed, implemented and monitored responsibly following a comprehensive risk assessment. Please see the Device safety information alert for further information: www.gov.uk/drug-device-alerts/all-posture-or-safety-belts-fitted-to-supportive-seating-wheelchairs-hoists-and-bathroom-equipment-risk-of-serious-injury-or-death
- MS Society (2022) MS Awareness Week 2022 Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/get-involved/ms-awareness-week
- Multiple Sclerosis Trust (2018) MS: the facts available from: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/about-ms/what-ms/ms-facts
- MS Society (2018) What is MS?Available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/what-is-ms#
- MS Society (2018) Signs and symptoms available from: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms