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Rehab in MS: what could it mean for you?

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Illustrations of rehabThis June the MS Trust is bringing RIMS, Europe’s largest conference on MS rehabilitation, to the UK for the first time. We hope this will be a big step towards better rehab services for everyone affected by MS. But what exactly is MS rehab? In this special feature we speak to health professionals and people with MS to find out how it could work for you.

What is rehab?

In 2011 the MS Trust and the Royal College of Physicians published the third of our audits of NHS services for people with MS in the UK. In some ways it showed a great improvement. In 2011, 93 per cent of people questioned said they could access an MS specialist nurse. This still isn’t perfect, but it’s a sign of the progress that’s been made since the first MS nurses were appointed. But less than half of those questioned thought they had access to specialist rehabilitation services.

Many people might not even be sure what a rehabilitation service is. In short, rehabilitation (or ‘rehab’) in MS means all the things that might help you solve the everyday problems you face at home and work.

It’s also all the people who can offer support and help you set practical, positive goals for living your life the way you want to. These might include physiotherapists, occupational therapists (OTs), speech and language therapists, dietitians, clinical psychologists and counsellors.

It’s clear that we need to raise the profile of rehab services in MS. We need to promote existing services so that more people are able to get the benefit. But we also need to champion what rehab can do for you and encourage more health organisations to offer better, local support.

What’s the MS Trust doing?

If you’ve been a friend of the MS Trust for a while you’ll know about all the work we do to support, train and champion MS nurses. But did you know that we also provide vital support for a whole range of specialist rehab workers? The MS Trust Annual Conference is a valuable event for specialist nurses, but it’s also attended by physiotherapists, OTs and a whole range of rehab professionals. In 2003 we helped set up Therapists in MS (TiMS), a group that brings together a wide range of health professionals, including physiotherapists and OTs, to improve services for people living with MS. You can read more about TiMS on page 14.

Over the past year we’ve been expanding our work promoting rehab services. Last year we published a report looking at the benefits of allied health professionals (physios, OTs and others with particular expertise in MS). This report has now fed into the second phase of our ongoing GEMSS project, helping MS services measure and show the difference their work makes to people with MS. We’ll be reporting on this project next year – you can find out more at

And this summer we’re proud to co-hosting RIMS, Europe’s leading rehab in MS conference, with the MS Team at the University College London Hospital. This is the first time the conference has come to the UK and we believe it could lead to real improvements in the rehab services available to people living with MS in the UK.

Making rehab work for you

Read more from some of the leading voices in rehab in the UK: the pioneers who set up the first services, the researchers who’ve developed new ways of thinking about rehab, the practitioners who make a difference to people every day, and people living with MS, who have experienced first-hand the difference rehab can make.

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