Gym programme for MS patients looks promising

February 02 2015

GROUNDBREAKING results achieved from a physiotherapy programme, which helps people with multiple sclerosis, could lead to the project being rolled out across Europe.

GROUNDBREAKING results achieved from a physiotherapy programme, which helps people with multiple sclerosis, could lead to the project being rolled out across Europe.

Sessions at BS7 Gym at the Bristol County Ground have helped people with MS regain balance and movement skills, as well as provided them with a forum to share their experiences.

One person has even begun training for a half marathon.

Through taking part in a mixture of exercises, some participants have been able to return to work, while others have been able to do everyday tasks, which were previously beyond them.

Findings from Southmead Hospital's Bristol and Avon Multiple Sclerosis (BrAMS) scheme – developed by North Bristol NHS Trust physiotherapist Tania Burge and BS7 personal trainer Nathan Walsh – has received interest from Italy, Spain and Germany following a presentation at the MS conference in Norway to the UK’s National Chartered Society of Physiotherapists.

Tania said: “I am very proud to be acknowledged as part of a dynamic team enabling people with MS to live life to the full. We are making massive differences.

“A lot of other countries are running more hospital-based programmes but for people with a long-term condition like MS, going to BS7 Gym is a much nicer experience than going to a hospital.”

The sessions have proved so successful that trainer Nathan has set-up an additional session per week for people who have completed the initial six week course.

The course is the first of its type in Bristol for high ability people with MS.

He said: “We have seen real improvements in things like balance and walking but also a big change in people’s confidence. Instead of worrying about what they can’t do, they have focused on what they can do and I think they have surprised themselves at how quickly they have seen improvements.”

Jen Satterley, 30, is one of the people to benefit from the programme. She said: “When I started [at BS7] there were everyday things that I wouldn’t do like standing on a chair to get something out of a cupboard.

“I felt too young to be disabled. I was completely fine a year ago and it really hit me that my friends were doing things that I couldn’t do. Being out in public, people who didn’t know me would think I was drunk, but it was my balance.

She added: “I started getting back my ability to do things and it made me start to feel normal again. The social aspect is also a massive help – it means you don’t feel completely alone.”

Tania hopes that other countries will adopt the scheme. She is also planning to do a masters degree in order to formally publish the research.

In addition to using BS7 facilities, Gloucestershire Cricket raised awareness for the programme by making their LV= County Championship game against Essex a ‘Batting for BrAMS’ MS Awareness match, where fans wore something red and donated to the charity.

For more information about BrAMS, contact the charity office on 0117 4143883.