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Other Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Since there is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), learning to live with the disease and controlling symptoms is important to your well-being. The following treatments can help.
Physical therapy can help maintain muscle strength and tone, dexterity, and walking ability. Physical therapists use exercises and other modalities to help preserve mobility and function.
Occupational therapists may recommend braces or assistive devices, such as walkers, and develop a plan to help you manage activities of daily living.
Speech and swallowing therapy may be useful if you have difficulty with slurred speech and with swallowing foods and liquids. This therapy works to strengthen the oral muscles, and it can also help you to reduce your risk of aspiration pneumonia (when food or drink is accidentally inhaled).
Individual or Group Therapy
Counseling with a mental health professional can improve your coping strategies for dealing with physical symptoms and emotional stress. Many people with MS experience depression or other psychiatric problems. The unpredictable course of the disease may contribute to family conflicts or relationship issues.
A therapist can work with you to develop new coping skills or stress management techniques. Counselors also can help you deal with losses associated with the disease, such as the inability to work, lifestyle changes, or dependence on others for housekeeping or personal care.
Stem Cell Transplants
Researchers are studying whether stem cell transplants can be used to treat people with MS. While there are different kinds of transplants, one that has been used for MS involves rebuilding the immune system with the person's own stem cells or cells from a donor. First, chemotherapy and radiation may be used to destroy the immune system. Next, stem cells are injected into the person's vein. These cells travel through the blood to the bone cavities, where they produce healthy cells and platelets. If this process goes well, the person's immune system builds itself back up without destroying the nerve fiber's myelin sheath, which causes the symptoms of MS.
Stem cell studies are happening in many countries. The hope is that this treatment will reduce and possibly reverse symptoms.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop.
Burt RK, Loh Y, Stefosky D, et al. Autologous non-myeloablative haemopoietic stem cell transplantation in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a phase I/II study. Lancet Neurology. 2009;8(3):244-253.
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Multiple Sclerosis Society. News item. Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/news/news-detail/index.aspx?nid=2568 . Accessed August 31, 2012.
Multiple Sclerosis. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple%5Fsclerosis/multiple%5Fsclerosis.htm . Accessed August 31, 2012.
About MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/index.aspx . Accessed August 31, 2012.
Science Daily. Stem cell transplant reverses early-stage multiple sclerosis. Science Daily website. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090129213441.htm . Published February 3, 2009. Accessed August 31, 2012.
United Spinal's MS Scene. Stem cell transplantation in patients with MS in the HALT trial. United Spinal's MS Scene website. Available at: http://www.unitedspinal.org/msscene/2009/05/06/stem-cell-transplantation-in-patients-with-ms-in-the-halt-trial/ . Accessed August 31, 2012.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/17/2014