I am sure many people have experienced physiotherapy at some point in their lives, regardless of MS. An example would be after a hand or leg being in plaster. The idea is to help remind the body of using its muscles, due to the muscle not being active for a period of time.
In most cases this is straight forward as you will be shown and given exercises to encourage the body to return to what the muscle were made for.
However in MS it gets a bit more complicated, as we are not able to move our body due to the affects of MS, it's not for the want of trying. Even after the relevant exercise are shown, it does not mean our body over time returns to life before MS.
An MS physiotherapist will be a specialist in neurological rehabilitation, as therapy for someone with MS or any other neurological condition will differ somewhat to someone who is recovering from a broken leg.
Physio in MS is a way of encouraging muscles that are still active, to do their job and not to fall into bad habits. An example of this would be, when you may change how you walk to compensate for having a limp or foot drop. Even though you are "managing" to get by, this does not mean what we are doing is correct. Therefore our change in style results in muscles not being used correctly.
I have personally encountered different types of physiotherapy and oddly, these were all very different from each other and had differing results.
NHS – This is usually given over a limited number of sessions. The idea is you take the exercises away and continue them. This can be difficult, as you may realise that do the exercise assistance is usually required.
Bobath Physiotherapy – I came across this via a Private practice. I found it is a very hands on and the focus is on qualitative movement. I found that the instructors are there to assist your body and encourage movement. Even though the bobath concept is used by the majority of neurological physiotherapists, I found experiences privately differed to that with the NHS.
Other Private practices – This very much depends on personal choice as people will find that a certain therapist understands them better or that they get more benefit from a certain person.
In my opinion, I believe physiotherapy in MS can help, but I believe that the benefits are limited. The reasons for the limitations are down to the MS itself and the nature of the condition. Because if you are unable to move a body part due to MS, this part will not start moving again due to physio. Yes, you may get assistance on how to move better and make use of other muscles, but I personally would get more from exercise than via a physio.
This is my own personal feeling and I am sure many of you may be benefiting from physio. However, I would add a caveat to what have said, as I still believe that if you were given the opportunity to have 20 minutes of Bobath physiotherapy everyday to help start your day off, then I believe this will help. I would say this, because when I have had Bobath physio have felt positive effects, but these only lasted for a limited time. If however, as I mention, that you had this at the start of everyday, it would help wake the body up, as it would get the blood flowing around the body, move body parts and help loosen muscles.
Sine I am not in a position to have this, maybe this why I find that exercise really helps me. I do this every day and feel the benefits, and on the days when I don't I can physically feel the difference.