Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system - the brain and spinal cord. The material surrounding nerve fibres is destroyed causing interruption to messages from the brain to other parts of the body hence affecting motor and sensory functions. The course of the disease is often unpredictable and the progression varies greatly from individual to individual.

It is a progressive disease that will affect individuals differently at different stages of the progression.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Initially the participant may experience vague feelings of tingling or numbness in an area of the body;
  • As the disease progresses more severe symptoms develop including general weakness, muscle spasm, poor coordination and loss of sensation imparts of the body;
  • Slurred speech, blurred or double vision, dizziness, numbness, loss of balance, incontinence and changes in mood may also develop;
  • Memory, attention span and judgement may be affected; and
  • Periods of stability are usually followed by a series of attacks.

Symptoms vary greatly from individual to individual and therefore it is difficult to recommend interventions. Safety approaches should be adopted as with all people with disabilities. It is best to ask the participant concerned the best way of approaching the situation.

Programming Considerations

  • Fatigue can be brought on by routine daily activities; therefore individuals with MS are likely to be more fatigued in the afternoon.
  • Schedule rest periods during the day
  • Heat will tend to bring on fatigue more quickly so do not plan too much activity in hot weather.

Strategies for Inclusion

  • Not everyone is affected in the same way so always ask what a participant needs and what he or she feels they are able to participate in
  • Activities may need to be modified to include them in a group activity.
  • 1:1 support may be required for some activities, so this needs to be taken into account when developing staffing rosters

Behaviour Management Issues

  • Fatigue can induce depression

Further information

www.msaustralia.org.au