All of our programmes of treatment are agreed to suit the individual, but in most cases our aim is to minimise the effects of living with a neuromuscular condition. This typically involves aiming to maintain muscle strength, manage pain, and enable function and independence, but will always be aligned to the individual’s goals and priorities.
While there are often challenges when living with a long-term condition, the physiotherapy team at NMC has a wealth of experience in working alongside people with neuromuscular conditions. Our team are proactive in diagnosing current issues and in identifying potential problems which might arise in the future.
As neuromuscular conditions are long-term in nature, our physiotherapy team will always endeavour to provide advice and education which promotes healthy lives through appropriate exercise and physical activity.
Exercise and Physical Activity
For many people living with a neuromuscular condition, maintaining their independence and quality of life are key priorities. Often, this relates to their physical function in being able to undertake common activities of daily living, or in how they can mobilise. Ultimately, the most effective way to maintain function and muscle strength is to use what you have and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Almost everyone in their life has been advised to do more exercise, or to get more active, but this is often easier said than done. Not only can the effects of a neuromuscular condition make accessing regular exercise more challenging, but life has a way of presenting barriers to even the best of intentions. It’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to involve lifting weights or running on a treadmill. Social activities such as dance or virtual exercise classes, disability sport, or pastimes like gardening or woodwork are all brilliant ways to get and stay healthy, as well as using our muscles and minds in different ways. Finding a way of being physically active which is safe, beneficial, meaningful and enjoyable is key to reaping the numerous benefits that exercise can offer. NMC is particularly fortunate to have the only gym space in Europe specifically for the use of people with neuromuscular conditions, as well as an expert understanding in how to exercise safely.
The NMC physiotherapy team work with hundreds of people who all engage with physical activity and exercise in individual ways, and our aim will always be to work alongside you to ensure you stay as strong and mobile as possible, for as long as possible.
Hydrotherapy is exercise in a warm water environment. It can be used as a treatment for almost any issue: the heat and support of the water can enable relaxation of muscles and ease pain; the buoyancy of the water environment reduces the effects of gravity and aids weightbearing, enabling people with mobility problems to challenge their balance and walking in a risk free way; and the resistance provided by the force of water enables every person to work their muscles to the appropriate level, without over- or under-use.
NMC make use of a hydrotherapy pool that is accessible and safe for people with disabilities to access. While hydrotherapy is generally a very safe treatment option, there are some health conditions and circumstances which may prevent you from being able to exercise in water. Prior to undergoing hydrotherapy at NMC, the physiotherapy team will discuss this with you in more detail to ensure this is a safe treatment option.
Pain is commonly experienced by people with a neuromuscular condition, and often doesn’t respond well to even powerful pain-relieving medication. The NMC physiotherapy team have great expertise in assessing pain and understanding its nature and behaviour. Our physiotherapy team are skilled in a range of physical interventions which aim to help reduce and manage pain, such as acupuncture, soft tissue therapy and graded exercise programmes.
Maintenance of Mobility
Many people with neuromuscular conditions feel the effects of stiffness in their joints, muscles and soft tissues. Over time, this can lead to reductions in flexibility, or even prolonged loss of movement known as contractures. Maintaining the length and elasticity of soft tissues is important in ensuring freedom of movement and function. There are many ways to maintain flexibility in muscles and joints – such as stretches, passive movements, and whole-body activities such as yoga or tai chi which also promote balance and strength, and which can be performed in a seated as well as standing position.
Advice and Education
For many physiotherapists, meeting somebody with a neuromuscular condition might be a rare occurrence. The NMC physiotherapy team work with people with neuromuscular conditions on a daily basis. We learn from our community as experts-by-experience and understand that neuromuscular conditions are more than problems affecting a single joint or muscle, but require an ongoing, collaborative and holistic approach to problem solving. From weight loss to wheelchairs, vaccines to ventilators, please feel free to ask our team any questions you might have.
Many neuromuscular conditions change over time, and your goals might also change to match new or different challenges or priorities. The NMC physiotherapy team undertake a regular process of re-assessment, enabling you to track potential changes in your condition over time. We also undertake assessment of more acute problems, such as an injury sustained during a fall, or changes to your breathing following a chest infection. This proactive approach enables us to try and prevent potential issues before they develop, and also enables you to make informed decisions about your health, whilst also updating other professionals or services who are involved in your care.
Personal Assistant Training and Education
For people who are supported by personal assistants or carers, the NMC physiotherapy team can provide education and training to upskill people in therapeutic techniques. Activities such as stretching, soft tissue mobilisation or chest clearance techniques can be effectively and safely performed by trained individuals and are most effective when performed on a daily basis. Training and education of personal assistants or carers can be supported by video recording and regular reviews to ensure ongoing quality. If you would like more information about education or training for your support teams, please speak to one of the NMC physiotherapy team.