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The case for MS occupational therapy

The case for MS occupational therapyThe NICE Guidelines on MS state that the specialist neurological rehabilitation service should have an occupational therapist as an integral member of its specialist team.
NICE Management of multiple sclerosis in primary and secondary care
November 2003 (1).

Occupational therapy is seen by the NSF as a 'key element of successful home care'.
The National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions, 2005. Department of Health (2).

The case for MS occupational therapy services

The case for MS occupational therapy The NICE Guidelines and the NSF for Long term Conditions see occupational therapists (OTs) as essential members of the MS team and a key element of succesful home care. They play a vital role in supporting people affected by MS to live independently and in managing basic needs at home, work and within the community.
The case for MS occupational therapy Fatigue is often among the first challenges faced by people with MS and management is an important issue with which OTs can provide practical support, ensuring positive impacts on many aspects of daily living.
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs are well-placed to provide information on effective ways to address needs generated by changes in functional ability. Although it is impossible to predict the future effects of the disease, early OT involvement can help to ensure the best possible solutions are in place to support individuals to live safely and independently at home through the provision of equipment such as rails, bathing, bed and toilet equipment, ramps, stairlifts and level access showers.
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs undertake cognitive assessments, such as when a person with MS has difficulties with short or long term memory, concentration, executive planning etc., providing practical support in learning compensatory strategies, or providing assistive technology (medication reminders, care-line, telephone prompting system etc.).
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs provide vocational assessment and assistance in helping people to return to work, or in finding alternative employment.
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs have a very important role in manual handling assessments and subsequent provision of equipment (e.g. hoists, transfer boards etc.) and training for carers on how to use this equipment.
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs play a key role in 24 hour postural management, advising on specialist seating, wheelchair assessment, pressure care and night time positioning in bed. OTs can provide hand splints to prevent the development of contractures.
The case for MS occupational therapy OTs will be aware of and able to advise on potential problems and solutions associated with sensory paraesthesias. This can mean that some people with MS will experience reduced sensation, thus increasing the risk of burns from radiators and hot water pipes.
OTs will be aware of the possibility of increased sensitivity to pain (hyperpathia), which can mean that people with MS experience increased sensitivity to touch or pressure. In such cases, and where there is a need for sensitive pressure care, OTs can provide appropriate assessment of seating, wheelchair and hoisting needs.
Further information  
(1) NICE Management of multiple sclerosis in primary and secondary care, November 2003
Download here
(2) The National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions, 2005.
Department of Health.
Download here
Translating the NIC and NSF guidance into practice. A guide for occupational therapists Download here
View the MS Society's range of free publications Download here
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