How Can Therapy Help with Multiple Sclerosis?

| Dr. Kristen Reed

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) occurs when there is an abnormal immune system response that targets an individual’s central nervous system and causes inflammation. When the central nervous system is targeted, it leads to an inability to send messages throughout our bodies or alters the messages that are being sent.

MS can present in a variety of symptoms in those that are affected. The most common symptoms include:1 fatigue, gait difficulties, numbness/tingling, spasticity, weakness, vision problems, dizziness/vertigo, bladder dysfunction, sexual problems, bowel issues, pain/itching, and cognitive changes. Least common symptoms include:1 speech changes, swelling, tremor, seizures, and hearing loss.

There are many health care professions that can assist with treating the symptoms that present in order to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Typical treatment options for MS include:5 medications, emotional support, neuropsychologist, vocational rehab, complementary and alternative medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.

Luckily, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services can address all of the most/least common symptoms!

Physical Therapy:3

  • Evaluates and addresses the ability to move and function
  • Creates individualized exercise programs to include: strengthening, balance training, stretching, and aerobic training
  • Educates in the use of mobility aides (e.g. canes, crutches, scooters, walkers, wheelchairs)
  • Manages and treats dizziness/vertigo
  • Designs an exercise program to improve pelvic-floor muscle dysfunction in order to reduce bladder/bowel issues
  • Improves swelling by: providing compression garments, educating on proper positioning and exercises to reduce swelling, and providing manual lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling

Occupational Therapy:2,3

  • Helps with daily activities such as bathing, toileting, working, taking medications, driving, cleaning, getting dressed, grooming, meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, and hobbies
  • Teaches how to conserve energy
  • Educates on the benefits of/how to use adaptive equipment in the home, work, or school environments (e.g. wheelchairs, canes, walkers, jar openers, visual aides, a “reacher” tool to pick up items from the floor, weighted utensils, bathroom equipment)
  • Improves strength and coordination
  • Improves issues with memory, concentration, or problem-solving

Speech-Language Pathology:3,4

  • Teaches oral exercises to strengthen muscles in the throat, tongue, cheeks, mouth, and lips
  • Eases difficulty and improves clarity of communication
  • Trains on special communication devices
  • Facilitates swallowing
  • Provides diet modifications
  • Alters positions while eating
  • Evaluates and treats changes in a personal ability to think, reason, concentrate, or remember information

If you are suffering from MS and are noticing a decline in any of these areas, contact Live Your Life today so that we can help to alleviate your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life!

Dr. Kristen Reed

Dr. Kristen Reed
LYL Physical Therapist

Dr. Kristen Reed, DPT, GRS, CLT graduated in 2011 from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.S. in Kinesiology degree. She went on to graduate with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from St. Catherine University (2015) and completed the Geriatric Clinical Residency program from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in 2016. She has spent her career working with primarily geriatrics in the Transitional Care/ Memory Care/ Long Term Care settings. Dr, Reed loves working with geriatrics and is passionate about helping them improve their quality of life. She loves being a therapist and watching her clients reach their goals.

She is kept busy with her husband and young daughter. She enjoys spending time with friends and family as much as possible. Her favorite activities are hiking in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter.


1“MS Symptoms.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 24 March 2021,

2“Multiple Sclerosis and Occupational Therapy.” Healthline, 24 March 2021,

3“Rehabilitation.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 24 March 2021,

4“Speech Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis.” Therapy Achievements, The Rehab Specialists, 24 March 2021,

5“Treating MS.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 24 March 2021,

6“What is MS.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 24 March 2021,

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