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Incontinence Support Blog

Transitioning to a Wheelchair with MS: When and How?

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 19, 2013 10:49:00 AM

Those with multiple sclerosis (MS) can experience mobility difficulty as the disease progresses. Among several symptoms include decreased balance, increased spasticity, sensation changes, vision impairment, muscle weakness or a combination of these symptoms, which can affect mobility.  When your lower extremities aren’t functioning optimally, you may need to seek out assistance in the form of walkers, wheeled walkers, crutches, braces, canes or even a  wheelchair. If you opt for a wheelchair, sometimes it’s a difficult decision because you’re wrestling with the perception that only severe cases of mobility warrant a wheelchair.  Not true.

The goal of using a wheelchair is to maintain safety and maximize home and community access. Several factors need to be considered when transitioning to a wheelchair.  Obviously
the first consideration is your functional status and whether you have recently experienced an increase in accidents due to muscle fatigue or loss of balance.  A second reason might be if you are self-sufficient enough to function with daily living.  A decrease in fine-motor skills and general fatigue may begin to take its toll on you, and those everyday functional tasks may not be so easy anymore.  

Wheelchair Choices

Choosing the right wheelchair for your needs can be an interesting proposition. The process begins when your physician prescribes you one. But doctors don’t always know the best and latest in wheelchairs, so it’s important to go through the selection process with someone who has experience with MS wheelchairs.  A physical or occupational therapist is the best one to ask.  They are, by far, the most experienced on the subject.  They’ll measure and fit you for your wheelchair, measure your house to be sure the wheelchair fits and compare wheelchair options from various wheelchair manufacturers.  Another option is to go to a wheelchair clinic with your therapist. These clinics have seating experts with special equipment to evaluate what kind of extra wheelchair features you may need, such as recline and tilt mechanisms, pressure-relieving cushions, brake extensions, seating systems and other accessories to help with your specific MS symptoms and mobility.

Power or Manual

MS wheelchairs have certainly changed over the years.  They are much lighter, and there mechanics are state-of-the-art. Whether you choose a motorized or manual wheelchair, the
decision should rest on your current symptoms, finances and lifestyle.  Obviously a motorized wheelchair is significantly more expensive.

  • Motorized wheelchair- If you don’t have enough strength to operate a manual wheelchair, you’ll need a motorized version to maintain your independence. Today there are a ton of choices, which are both fast and powerful. If you have significant impairment, such as paralysis, breath-activated devices are available.

Motorized wheelchairs are usually heavy, so you’ll need to consider a van with a wheelchair lift or ramp for getting around away from home. Also, because motorized wheelchairs are a lot more pricey, it’s important to see what your insurance covers for reimbursement purposes.

  • Manual wheelchair- This is a good choice if you have enough upper body strength to operate the wheelchair yourself.  A manual wheelchair is lighter and easier to transport. The lightest manual wheelchairs are made of titanium (vs. aluminum) and are often used by disabled athletes. 

Wheelchair Purchases

Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers will usually cover the cost of a wheelchair if your MS symptoms necessitate the use of one. Your physician will need to detail your specific needs for insurance approval.  Additionally, wheelchair vendors will sometimes offer financing or cover the cost, should your insurance policy not provide coverage. If all else fails, and you aren’t able to get covered for a wheelchair, you can buy second-hand models, which are half the cost, and most likely tax-deductible.

David Novak
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.

Topics: physical therapy, multiple sclerosis

Coping with your MS Diagnosis, tips from Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 13, 2013 10:10:00 AM

We know that there are lots of diagnosis which are associated with urinary incontinence, including multiple sclerosis. And when you first get diagnosed its easy to feel totally overwhelmed. So whether you've been diagnosed with MS or something else, we are thrilled to share some basic coping tips from David Novak.

 Orange Line

Certainlypeople react in a variety of ways when they find out they’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  It might help to know that while the news of the diagnosis is not the most pleasant, many people with MS have been able to successfully manage their symptoms and live fruitful and productive lives in spite of it. With the right education, information, treatment and support system, you can do the same.

Immediately Plan Your Treatment

Upon receiving news that you’ve been afflicted with MS, it might take some time to deal with your feelings and thoughts.  However, addressing strategies for treatment is not only extremely
important for the condition itself, but also for your good mental health.

With Multiple Sclerosis, it's vital to begin treatment as soon as you are diagnosed. In most cases, addressing it early gives you a significantly better chances of reducing the number of symptomal relapses you may have, which can slow down the progression of future issues. The ultimate goal is to interrupt and slow down the advancement of the disease, and at the
same time, avoid further interruption of your life and the things you want to accomplish.

Be True to What You Feel

As with mny life-altering situations, coming to terms and being true to your feelings wth your MS diagnosis is paramount.  Whether you feel mad, sad, scared, anxious or ashamed, just know that all of those feelings are experienced by many who are in the same situation.  It also might be comforting to know that these feelings will change and dissipate over time. So, sit with your feelings.  Get them out.  Give yourself time to get used to these emotions, because this is the best way to move forward after you have lived with these feelings for a while.

It's also important to remember not to blame yourself. Multiple Sclerosis is not your fault, and having the condition is not your fault either.  There’s nothing that you did in your life that could have prevented it, but there are many, many things you can do to make your life significantly easier.  

March Forward, and Get Out There!

This is a new chapter in your life.  Sure a diagnosis of MS is challenging to cope with and will have an impact on your life, but it also means that there will be good challenges in your life that, if overcome, will allow you to live a very fruitful, satisfying and accomplished life. Continue to do the things you like, especially staying active.  This will help you stay focused
and positive. You’ll find out that when you stay busy and do the things you love, that you will live in much the same way you always have. This can include your career, your personal relationships, your family and your daily routine.  

Don’t Be Shy about Your Diagnoisis

It’s normal to feel alone and want to be alone after you receive a diagnosis.  But this may not be the best course of action. Having a support system with nearly everything you do in life is
extremely helpful.  It’s no different with MS.  Don’t cut yourself off from the people closest to you. The support of your friends and family can make all the difference in the world as to how you handle the disease. There’s no doubt that living with MS can be stressful and challenging.  And those whom you share your life with probably know you best.  Having them around to share experiences with and talk with can make everyone feel better about the situation, especially you. 

Outside support groups with those afflicted with MS like you are especially helpful.  You’ll have those around you that really understand what you’re going through, mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.

David NovakDavid Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.

Topics: doctors visit, tips from Men's Liberty users, multiple sclerosis