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MS specialist physiotherapist Carol Greig

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How do you find working as a physiotherapist in the multidisciplinary team?

carol and julieWhen you’re working with MS it’s hard. You can’t just think about someone’s mobility or balance, you have to be a lot more holistic.

I think working in the multidisciplinary team, you learn a lot more about MS. You can link up with the occupational therapy for fatigue management, you can link up with newly diagnosed courses.

I think we work really well as a team, particularly with the MS nurses. Often the MS nurses or myself are in contact with people a lot, and you pick things up. They’ll ask me to see someone they’ve seen in the clinic, and I’ll ask them for specific concerns I have with people I see. So we work to address a lot more needs than just the mobility, balance and general physio things.

Working in the team I’ve learned a lot about lots of different aspects of MS, which aren’t specific to physiotherapy. Working with an MS social worker I’ve learned a lot more about benefits and employment, and it’s the same for nursing issues, medical issues. It can all help you to be a better physio – you can give people more advice or information, or know who to direct them to.

What did you learn from taking part in the MS Trust’s GEMSS programme?

Taking part in the GEMSS process as a physio was great! The MS Trust GEMSS team helped me design a questionnaire which we sent out to 50 service users. There is no way as a physio I would have been able to design a questionnaire like that by myself. And the feedback we got, it was really effective, really useful to get. Lots of information about the people we were seeing, how long they’d had MS, how many home visits – lots of demographics.

But it was more interesting getting information back from people with MS. Things like 100 per cent of them had trust and confidence in their physiotherapist. They were pleased with the service. They answered about all the different things a physiotherapist can do: spasticity management, strength, balance, support in the range of movement. I think there were 18 different aspects of care that the physio provided!

It’s important that we use the info to improve the service, rather than just thinking, well the service users are happy. So we’ve taken a few suggestions forward. One of the bits of feedback was that people feel more confident, self-assured, less likely to give up work, they felt that they had more control over their condition. These are things we don’t measure as a service! We look at walking speed! So it’s made me adjust how I measure my physiotherapy. A lot of people had expressed interest in an exercise group. So we’ve got one of those up and running. We’ve used the feedback to further improve the service as well.

How Carol helped me

Julie, diagnosed 2011

I was first referred to Carol in January 2015. My mobility was not as good as it had been. It was deteriorating. Dr O’Riordan suggested physiotherapy might help to stop it deteriorating any further and hopefully help things to come back.

I find that MS is a sort of moveable disease. You have good days and bad days and different times of year can bring different challenges, especially with mobility. So as we’ve gone through the year we’ve worked on a variety of different things which have all helped me to improve. And then as one thing improves, it’s a progression, you move onto another set of exercises.

Initially I was walking only with one stick. Carol put me onto two sticks which has helped my balance immensely. Hopefully we’re getting to the stage of going back to one stick with the balance improved. It’s a progressive thing. The improvement has been slow at times but constant throughout the year. So it’s been a very good result for me. We’ve done such a huge variety of exercises, they’ve all been helpful in their own way.

The biggest difference Carol has made for me? I think physiotherapy gives you an ability to help yourself. One of the things that’s difficult when you’re first diagnosed is nobody knows what’s going to happen. It affects everybody differently. You have very little control over what’s happening to you. The work we’ve been doing over the last year, it’s given me something to focus on. Very much the feeling that I can do something that’s helping me to stay well. That’s probably the biggest advantage of the work we’ve been doing.

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