In this guest blog, Niamh and Sarah talk about what they are doing at Josephs Court, our wellness centre based in Essex…
Hi we are Niamh and Sarah, we are undertaking a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) at the University of Essex. We are half way through completing our final role emerging 8 week placement at MS-UK (Josephs Court) until the beginning of September. As this is a role emerging placement, there is currently no Occupational Therapist within this setting. Therefore, it is our ambition as OT students to promote our profession amongst the MS-UK community.
‘Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.’ (Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2017)
We are thoroughly enjoying building a rapport with clients, family, carers and staff. It has reinforced for us the importance of viewing clients and individuals we meet holistically and delivering client centred care.
Both of these concepts are reflected in the core underpinnings and ethos of the OT profession. We are excited to continue to work within this inspiring team. Our aim is to design interventions that may improve the quality of life of the clients that we meet, identify clients potential and where possible collaboratively work to overcome barriers through engaging in activities of daily living and occupations.
Our role as OT students within this setting has consisted of us using transferable skills such as communication, professionalism and listening in conjunction with core OT skills and implementing these at MS-UK.
We have been tasked to identify and develop an occupational focused service development that targets clients’ needs and enables clients to improve their health and well-being. Using our skills we have ascertained that falls is a barrier to engagement in activities of daily living.
After conducting some research within Josephs Court regarding incidences and prevalence of falls, we have ascertained that falls is a barrier for engagement in daily occupations and may be impacting people’s psychological health. As a result, we will facilitate a falls prevention information session. This will take place in Josephs Court. Where possible we shall signpost clients and carers to alternative services, support and equipment to enhance client’s pathways of care. We will continue to make suggestions on self-management techniques.
We are encouraged to adopt the positive mind-set that is so evident from both clients and staff within this community.
‘Occupational Therapy practitioners ask, ‘what matters to you?’ not, ‘what’s the matter with you’.’ (Ginny Stoffel, AOTA President)
Meet the expert Alan Pearson is a Wellness Coach for MS-UK’s wellness centre, Josephs Court. Having spent over 15 years in the health and fitness industry, he has spent the last five years coaching, educating and helping people affected by multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.
In a seated position place your foot on a roller or tube to isolate the toes. Pull your toes up towards the knee. This will help the ankle joint.
Heel or toe rocking
This can be done in a seated or standing position (hold on if you have stability issues). Rock your foot from toe to heel. There are some exercise aids out there that can help from stability discs to heel toe rockers. Ankle rotations In a seated position try and circle your ankle in clockwise and anti-clockwise movements, if you can lift your leg across your opposite leg you can mobilise the ankle with your hand.
Flexibility and stretching of the lower leg muscles
These stretches can be done to help the calf muscles
Towel stretches for the calf muscles
Use a towel or resistance band over the toes and ball of foot. Hold the end of towel in both hands and pull towards the body, hold for 20 secs, release and then repeat.
Wall stretches for lower leg
Take a split stance position facing the wall, place hands on the wall and stretch out the back of the leg. You should be able to feel the stretch down the back of your calf. Now move your body weight forward and place weight over the front bent leg, you should feel the stretch in the lower portion of the leg.
To release soft tissue tension
This can be achieved with massage or the use of a foam roller, both will release muscle tension and promote blood flow.
Static cycling on upright or re-cumbent cycle
The cycling action encourages repetitive movement of the ankle, which helps mobilise the joints and builds strength in the legs.
Ankle weight resistance band
Place the band around the feet and pull it up towards the body. This is a good exercise to strengthen the muscles. If movement is limited then the use of an active or passive cycle like Medicotech’s Thera-bike is very useful in getting the legs and feet moving. In addition, the use of a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) cycle, such as the Cyclone technologies RT300 for the lower body can be an effective machine.
A TENS machine can help stimulate the relevant muscles, but please get advice from your doctor before using. I would suggest getting assessed or reviewed by a physical therapist or corrective exercise coach. By assessing range of motion, muscle imbalances, muscle weakness or neural impairment you can establish an effective exercise or activity plan that will maximise your outcome and provide a more positive outlook. Then you will feel confident that the exercises you are doing are relevant because it will also help set realistic goals and expectations. The continuity of exercise is a big thing with any neurological conditions, good movement patterns need to be established daily and re-affirmed. Exercise can help in many ways. Whether you get involved in a local exercise group or activity centre, or look online for exercises there is a lot of information out there. It may just inspire you to make the changes needed, or at least start thinking about it.
Subscribe to New Pathways magazine today to read issue 103 and discover more information about managing the symptoms of foot drop through exercise. I
mportant notice: Always seek the advice of your doctor or medical professional before attempting any exercises.