What does “Thriving Beyond MS©” mean? Simply put, it is you defining your life and your disease, and not the other way around. We at MS Cure Fund have had the very distinct pleasure of meeting amazing people, who also happen to have MS. For them, thriving is a way of life, almost a religion.
Thriving Beyond MS© was born from research we did seeking out ways to improve one’s health and outlook, not succumb to the debilitating aspects of multiple sclerosis. In reviewing research compiled by Dr. John Marmarou, PhD. of Total Rehab & Fitness in Cherry Hill, NJ and Waltham, MA, we saw an astounding pattern emerging from his data. While Dr. Marmarou was documenting the positive effects of long term physical and occupational therapy for people living with MS, what we saw was an even more impressive improvement in cognition. But why was cognition improving at a faster rate than physical measures. Then it dawned on us. Therapy requires very concentrated effort on very specific movements. Hence using your brain. The therapy was creating new neuro pathways (neuroplasticity) in the brain in order to allow for concentration on, and execution of, movement. In addition, (and known in the stroke community for years) physical therapy allows the brain to find new neuro pathways to communicate with the rest of the body. WOW! Further research uncovered clinical studies that showed moderate aerobic exercise for a period of 45 minutes coupled with learning something new stimulated growth of new grey matter in the brain combatting brain atrophy and cognitive decline.
People living with MS really do have the ability to IMPROVE their disease state and repair some levels of debilitation. This was only a well thought concept until we met Maggie, Anna, Marisa, Maxine (Max), Rick and Dan. They are all GETTING BETTER, and we are witness to it. Maggie is legally blind; needs assistance to walk and yet she skis; rides equine therapy; learned Portuguese two years ago; is learning Spanish now; takes two classes at Assumption College and volunteers for a Hospice. Max spends 14 hours a day going, going, going from one volunteer commitment to another; participates in over a half dozen adaptive sports and leads a support group for people living with MS. Anna is a belly dancer and equine therapy rider; Marisa climbs mountains and skis; Rick does daily and long distance bicycle rides and Dan just got back on skis for the first time in 15 years so he could spend time on the slopes with his 12 year old snowboarding daughter. And they all are experiencing improvement of their symptoms and most importantly their quality of life.
But, as Maggie says, it’s not easy. They all have chronic fatigue and weakness in their legs, as well as other symptoms. Not every day is rosy. In fact, they will tell you they really struggle doing the activities they do. But the benefits outweigh the challenges and they soldier on.
So what is Thriving Beyond MS©? It is Maggie and Anna and Marisa and Max and Rick and Dan! It is every person who chooses to define their disease and not have it define them. It is the positive spirit and joy of life that radiates from these people and many more like them. Are you thriving? Please share your story by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can share it with everyone as proof that you may have MS, but it does not have you. Thrive Beyond MS©!
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