Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an illness which lies close to my heart, as my mother died of MS in 2012. If I had known that she could have benefited from a disability specific personal trainer I would have ensured that she had this help a long time ago.
To help people with MS I worked with the MS Society to prodcue a series of free to view exercise videos aimed at improving the lives of people with MS through exercise and physical activity.
Since doing so I've also created a more comprehensive set of programmes, to guide people with Multiple Sclerosis right through with motivation, training guidance and a nutrition plan.
A person with Multiple Sclerosis needs to focus on exercises which promote strength gains and muscle growth to ensure that the functionality is not lost, leaving them in a position where they can't carry out everyday tasks. Relapses can result in weeks, if not months of inactivity, during which time the muscles are subject to atrophy (decrease in size) due to lack of use. For this reason it's important that strength and muscle size are maintained. It's equally important to increase strength and muscle size during remission periods in order to set a higher bar for when relapses occur.
I've delivered personal training both face to face and online for many clients with multiple sclerosis. I've never experienced a case where there hasn't been some improvement in strength and fitness as a result of the training. As I mention constantly, I can't cure the symptoms. That's not what I do, but I can certainly offer a good workout and in most cases improve strength and functionality. In other cases I can prolong the deterioration process. In either case, the sooner you start strength training the better.
I mentioned that my mum had Multiple Sclerosis. She was diagnosed at a relatively young age, beforer I'd become a personal trainer for peopple with MS, and to my knowledge she didn't really show any signs or symptoms until I left home to go to University in 2000. At that point she seemed to deteriorate rather quickly. Each time I visited her, her balance would have reduced significantly and by 2006 the Multiple Sclerosis had left her bed-bound with only 3 visits per day from a carer. One Sunday, during a visit home, I decided that this situation was unacceptable so I called an ambulance and had her taken to a local hospital. I left her there in the capable hands of the staff at Buckingham hospital and returned back to London that evening.
The following morning I received a call at work saying that overnight she'd had a stroke. I left work, rushed back to the hospital where she was lying in the hospital bed motionless. After further tests they realised that it wasn't a stroke. It was a failure of the lungs causing a lack of oxygen to her brain. The result, brain damage to the point where she couldn't speak, move, eat or drink. I'll never know if she could understand words or language but she remained in this state for the following 6 years with no signs of improvement. Sadly, in 2012 she passed away due to Neumonia.
In 2007 I noticed a course in fitness coaching for disabled people and I jumped at the chance to get on it. It was only then that I realised how much my mum and other people with Multiple Sclerosis could have benefited from exercise.
Since then I've put my 10 years of experience in working with people with MS into creating the MS Warrior Programme and the taylor-made equivalent, the MS Custom Fit Programme, two 12 week health and fitness programmes for people with all stages of MS.
Scott, featured below talks about the MS Custom Fit Programme.