Kinesiology for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis
By Mathieu Gagnon, Kinesiologist
Kinesiology as My Profession
Kinesiology is a health profession that spans the biophysical, socio-cultural, psychological, and neuromotor control aspects of human movement and performance. Kinesiologists are an integral part of the health care system, specializing in active rehabilitation, injury prevention, performance enhancement, and health and function through individualized exercise prescription. Recently, the term “movement is medicine” has become popular, as increasing evidence emerges supporting the role appropriate physical activity has in helping eliminate health conditions.
My role as a kinesiologist at the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic has allowed me to work with people living with a variety of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis (MS) and stroke. Although I love working with every individual, a passion of mine is to work with individuals who have MS to help improve their functional level and help provide some functional independence in their lives.
What is Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative neurological condition associated with gait impairments, balance deficits, muscle weakness, fatigue and spasticity. My passion for working with those living with MS started when I witnessed firsthand how many people this condition impacts, and how vital a role an active rehab program can play in the maintenance or improvement of function. People with MS are often told their health and mobility will continue to worsen as time goes on, a message that often leaves people without a sense of hope.
As a practising kinesiologist, my role is to increase and promote carefully prescribed physical activity through client-centered functional assessments, tailored strength exercises and physical activity programs, balance training and gait training to assist in increasing overall quality of life in those with MS.
Treating Multiple Sclerosis
The variability in functional capacity across the MS population makes treatment sessions with each individual a fulfilling experience, while also challenging myself to innovate my treatment approaches to engage clients in their MS rehabilitation program. The use of technology in my treatment programs for my clients with multiple sclerosis is an aspect of rehabilitation that I find fascinating, and I continue to look for ways to use evidence-based rehabilitation technology in conjunction with targeted prescribed exercise to further help clients excel in their rehabilitation journey.
One of the rehab technologies I use with my multiple sclerosis clients is the NeuroCom® Sensory Organization Test (SOT). Using this tool during guided training sessions allows my MS clients to perform balance exercises in a safe environment, while providing an adequate challenge level required to promote neuroplasticity. A large part of treatment also includes developing healthy lifestyle habits that clients can then implement in their daily lives to continue seeing improvements in all facets of life. These lifestyle habits are centered around daily physical activity that integrate with each client’s passions and hobbies to ensure they are enjoyable and create lasting positive change.
Ultimately, my role as a kinesiologist at the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic is to provide engaging, evidence-based exercise programming while instilling a feeling of hope and promoting functional independence for those affected by multiple sclerosis. Being able to do even just 10% more than you could last month is an enormous increase in self confidence and independence, and I can help with that.