Ask the Expert – Mobility

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer  

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: What types of exercises are best to help with mobility and walking issues in MS?  

Answer: A number of different exercises can improve and maintain walking and mobility skills along with safety. Many of these exercises can be learned through formal physical therapy or through online programs. They can include exercises focused on range of motion and flexibility. Alternatively, they may focus on strengthening through resistance training. Some exercises are directed toward general cardiovascular health and others focus primarily on balance. Although any of these forms of exercise may be useful, specific exercise for an individual should focus on an individual’s exact needs. 

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We Are More Than Meets the Eye

Multiple sclerosis is often a misunderstood diagnosis. Many people are unaware of the complexities of the disease, and those with an MS diagnosis frequently become advocates, whether they realize it or not. The resilience of those with an MS diagnosis never ceases to amaze me. Not only do they have to learn about the disease and all its intricacies, but they often must educate those around them about it as well. I wish people knew that those with an MS diagnosis are truly courageous, and every journey is unique.

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Lisa Domenic – February 2024 Artist of the Month

MSAA features the work of many talented artists affected by multiple sclerosis as part of our annual MSAA Art Showcase. Each month we share these artists’ inspiring stories and beautiful artwork with you as our Artist of the Month. This month, we celebrate Lisa Domenic as February’s Artist of the Month. Lisa is from Philadelphia, PA.

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Black Herstory

By Chernise Joseph

For reasons unknown, forcing myself to sit and write lately has become increasingly difficult. The stresses of life coupled with just being sick have made one of my favorite hobbies intimidating to me. How do you write what you cannot see inside your own head?

Anyway, as I sat scrolling through some mind-numbing app, an informative blurb caught my attention. It told the story of Lake Lanier, a formerly thriving African American community in Georgia that was destroyed. That, of course, isn’t a tale new to any of us who have lived in America for any length of time, but it got me thinking about Black History Month or, more importantly, Black Herstory Month.

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Tablero de visión: una herramienta para el desarrollo personal

Enfocarse en el crecimiento personal es a menudo el tema del nuevo año. Implica identificar aquellas áreas de nuestras vidas que nos gustaría mejorar y dedicar tiempo y esfuerzo para que esos cambios ocurran. Invertir en nosotros mismos puede ser un desafío. ¿Cuántos de nosotros hemos establecido una meta solo para perder la motivación a mitad de año? Invertir en nosotros mismos es un esfuerzo continuo y valioso por razones personales y profesionales. Un tablero de visión es una de las herramientas que puedes utilizar para visualizar tus metas y encontrar la motivación para invertir en tu bienestar en 2024.

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Value yourself

A new year means new beginnings and promises new hope.  We all get 365 opportunities to improve our lives this year, so set out with renewed spirits and minds and see how the journey unfolds for you. Try not to get overwhelmed trying to plan everything for the year. Set achievable goals and take small steps at a time. I am sharing some pointers that I remind myself often so that I stay grounded in the present and hopeful for the future:

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Investing in Yourself for the New Year

2024 is here and with that, you may be thinking about what New Years resolutions can you tackle. Some ideas may be “to get out more,” “be better with spending,” or “get healthier.” While all of these are great places to start, it can be easy to get carried away and then feel disappointed your resolutions were short-lived. Here are some tips to make the most of the New Year and still achieve your goals!

  1. Pick one goal you want to focus on – Prioritize what is most important to you and maybe your other goals will start to fall into place as well.
  2. Start small – Ask yourself, is this goal realistic or attainable?
  3. Take Baby Steps – For example, if your resolution is to “Exercise more” don’t be too ambitious and start with “I will work out 4 times a week!” Although you may have that burst of motivation, it may sizzle out faster. Instead, try “I will walk one day this week.” If you do more, then great!
  4. Be Kind To Yourself – We are human and life happens unexpectedly. Remember that it is okay to adjust or reroute plans. If there is a day that is hard and you don’t feel motivated – which there will be those days, start back with baby steps and try again!

Be sure to take some time to reflect on the progress you have already made from last year to where you are now. Remind yourself every day to choose positivity and optimism as you invest in yourself this year!

Written by Alexa Moreno, LMSW

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Ask the Expert – Spasticity

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer  

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: Does spasticity in MS ever improve on its own and what are the best treatments for this symptom? 

Answer: First, it may help to define spasticity in simple terms. Spasticity is an increase in muscle tone due to an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory influences on nerve flow along the motor pathways of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain and disability. Activities of daily living, quality of life, upper extremity function, and gait, can all be affected. 

As with all MS symptomatology, spasticity can vary in intensity. It can improve or worsen, depending upon MS relapses, progression, or outside influences – including events, such as urinary tract infections. Fortunately, many interventions can help to reduce spasticity and improve comfort and function. 

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Embrace the Magic

‘Tis the season to savor moments, embrace traditions, and create lasting memories with loved ones. Explore festive activities, delve into cherished recipes, and discover the magic that makes the holidays truly special. From thoughtful gift ideas to mindful self-practices, there are many ways to maximize the joy and warmth of the holiday season.

Festive Traditions: Dive into the magic of the season by revisiting or creating new traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree together, baking festive treats, or watching classic holiday movies, traditions strengthen the bonds of family and friends.

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Making the Most Is Not Doing the Most

The holidays can be a busy and stressful time for most of us. The list includes holiday parties, hosting guests, shopping, gift wrapping, traveling, and cooking. Especially when you have young children, you’re expected to deliver the magic of Christmas with every chance you get. Through my journey living with MS, since I was a young adult, I have learned that doing the most during the holidays is not making the most of the holidays. I have since limited my holiday commitments and traveling to a minimum. This does not mean that I don’t enjoy and love the season; instead, it means I make it manageable, which makes it all the more enjoyable for me.  

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