Jeffrey L Smith of SmittysNotes.com
Multiple Sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a disease that greatly affects nervous tissue. Being an auto immune disease, the immune system gnaws away at the protective covering of nerves. As a result, just about every bodily function, from vision to the urinary system can be impaired. Many individuals become confined to a wheel chair, as they have trouble using their arms and legs. At this time there is no treatment to reverse MS, however there are ways to slow the progression of the disease.
One of the best ways to maintain mobility, as one doctor put it “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. It is crucial to find some type of physical movement that will allow muscles and joins to work at their best. Many find that water aerobics is a great tool. Being in the water, there is zero gravitational pull, therefore a low impact exercise. Another great way for many with MS is Massage Therapy. This allows the muscles to remain supple for as long as possible.
At 6th Sense Health and Wellness Center we have had the privilege and opportunity to know and work with Jeffrey L Smith. Many know him as the person behind the Piedmont’s SmittysNotes.com , which is a wonderful source of different community events, restaurants and social happenings. Yet, there is something that he bravely faces each day, MS. Since 2000, Jeff Smith has found that weekly Massage Therapy helped him in numerous ways. Then in 2009, when he had his first attack and was diagnosed with MS, Massage Therapy changed his life in a whole new way. After a year of using a walker, Jeff found that it would be much safer for him to use a wheel chair. Being in a wheel chair has brought about its own challenges physically: loss of muscular strength and rigor. Through Massage Therapy, he is able to receive a Deep Tissue Massage, which targets the muscles that he is no longer using: legs, ankles, back, chest and belly. It is crucial for MS patients to work on their flexibility as well as their mental health. Smitty is a self proclaimed “realist”, who knows his limitations, yet actively seeks ways to modify tasks or accepts that there are some things that he can just not do. Some days are much more taxing than others, but maintaining positivity and not allowing himself to go into a dark place is key!
Here in Winston-Salem, there is a really great partnership between two outstanding programs that greatly help those dealing with MS. The Gateway YWCA and Winston Salem State’s Physical Therapy program joined together under the MSFit organization. Together they encourage, teach and aid those with MS how to live with the disease. They cover everything from research, nutrition, physical activity and exercise to mental health and wellbeing. Also, in neighboring Greensboro, the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis is headquartered. Both are wonderful resources for those that have MS, those supporting friends and family with MS and well as the community who want to learn more about the disease and find ways to help.
Many individuals who have a chronic disease have found Massage Therapy to be an extremely positive way to regain and take control over their life. There are the physical benefits as well as the mental health and relaxation factors, that improve their quality of life. Working with a Therapist that is trained in the art of healing, who is kind and has a heart for helping those seek optimal health, is key. We are so fortunate to have a team here at 6th Sense Health and Wellness Center, that loves working with folks of all walks of life, that are seeking new ways to help themselves. Whether Massage Therapy is new to you or something that you have tried in the past, there are always ways to use massage to make life changing improvements for your mobility and overall health.
By: Megan Wilson
6th Sense Health and Wellness