Resources

This is something I’ve been meaning to put together for a while. It’s a list of resources that have helped me immensely in the last few years – everything from books and alternative therapies to different types of physio. Hopefully some of this is helpful to you too.

Physiotherapy

Here are some of the physiotherapy and neuro rehabilitation services I’ve availed of in the last few years and for which I owe a never-ending amount of thanks for. Without their help I would not be as strong as I am today. Some of these options are public and others are private.

  • Kiltipper Woods neuro physiotherapy and hydrotherapy in Dublin. I can not recommend this place enough. The physios are fantastic and I was hooked once I started the hydrotherapy – they even have a treadmill in the water! As far as I’m aware of this is one of the few private places in Ireland offering neuro rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
  • MS Northwest Therapy Centre is located in Sligo and does amazing work for people with MS in the area and nationwide. Mostly supported through fundraising efforts, they offer everything from free physio and hydrotherapy sessions to reflexology and counselling. They are also one of only a tiny number of places in Ireland – and the only free place I’m aware of – offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to people with MS.
  • Royal Hospital Donnybrook is an amazing centre and the only dedicated place in Ireland, that I’m aware of, offering intensive in-patient rehabilitation specifically for people with MS. I spent a month here and it was life changing. If you are interested in availing of their services make sure to request a referral from you consultant. They were also running an in-patient living well with MS programme while I was there.
  • MS Ireland offers a physio-led Move Smart online exercise programme. While it was oversubscribed for this year you can register your interest here for early next year. Also contact your regional centre for information on their physio programmes, many of these are also online now. I’ve been doing the physio-led programme run by my regional centre for years and I love it.
  • DBC Physiotherapy. This place is great, particularly if you’re suffering from back or neck pain. They use specially designed rehabilitation equipment developed in Finland by DBC International and this equipment helps to strengthen the body’s supporting muscles far quicker than if you were trying to do so with exercises alone. In my case, with a stress fracture and a slipped disk, strengthening my core was vital to helping my back feel protected and to stop it going into constant spasm. I honestly can’t recommend them enough and they have a number of locations.
  • MS Gym – well what can I say about this amazing online gym only that every person with MS should give it a go. Trevor has an amazing knowledge of the body and the way it moves and should function. Whether you can run or you can only wiggle your toes, there is something for everyone. You can read more about it using the link above and the MS 30 programme is a great place to start before fully committing to a longer subscription.

Complementary therapies

The one good thing to come from MS is how it’s forced me to take care of myself more and to look at my body and mind as a whole. Some of the therapies below I’ve been doing for years and others only recently. In different ways, they have all helped me to manage my symptoms, stress, my mental health and better understand my body.

  • Autogenic Training. I took part in this training via Chronic Pain Ireland but you can find more information here. It was honestly life changing and helped me to connect more with my body and notice the stress and anxiety I had been carrying around that was further inflaming my pain.
  • Breathwork. This is something I’m new to but totally hooked on. I’ve always struggled with mainstream meditation. Particularly when I’m very stressed as something about calming my breathing sends me into a blind panic. Breathwork is different though. All I can say is try it and you won’t be disappointed. As I’m not great at explaining the science behind it here’s what Dr Cathy Scanlon says on her site:

Breathwork is an active meditation, with deep rhythmic breathing to increase the oxygen flow through the body, resulting in a highly cathartic and slightly psychedelic state of mind — one that can unblock stuck energy and elevate us to deeper levels of clarity and awareness. The best part? The benefits are immediate!

Cathy Scanlon, Breathwork coach
  • Melt Method. This is an absolute must for anyone with MS or chronic pain. I honestly would never have gotten through the days my pain was at its worst without having Melt Method to turn to. Through the use of soft foam rollers and trigger point balls it helps loosen tightness in our fascia (the body’s connective tissue system) and through this it helps “restore neurological stability and sensory motor control. The ultimate outcome is pain relief, and performance improvement.” Kirsten Farrelly is the only qualified Melt instructor in Ireland and I can not recommend her classes enough. Visit the Little Bird Yoga studio timetable to view her list of classes. She offers in-person and online classes that combine Melt Method and gentle Pilates. If you struggle with spasticity I highly recommend getting hold of a soft foam roller and buying the Melt Method book or attending one of Kirsten’s classes.
  • Curable pain management course. This was expensive but worth every penny as it has helped me manage my pain and my MS and to let go of so much fear I was unknowingly clinging on to. However, if you are under a pain clinic in Ireland check what courses they offer as some hospitals run brilliant pain management and exercises courses that are free.
  • Art therapy 6-week course run by RHA. No prior art experiences necessary. They offer online and in-person courses. Email Andrea at artathomeireland@gmail.com to find out more.

Tools to help you at home

  • Massage guns. Everyone should own one of these. You don’t need an expensive one either. Mine cost €30 and is perfect for my needs. They are particularly great if you have reduced mobility and foam rolling is out of the question. Using this will really help to loosen up muscle tightness and pain in your body. I bring mine everywhere with me and have gotten used to the strange looks I get from people on trains and planes when I take it out.
  • Trigger point ball. This is amazing for giving yourself a deep at-home massage. While working on trigger points hurts initially, it is so worth it for the pain reduction and looseness that follows. When you find a tender point just make sure to hold on it for 30 seconds to release it. Lacrosse balls and tennis balls will do the same job.
  • Foam rollers. As mentioned these are a must. You can buy the official Melt Method ones from here in Europe. While expensive, they are worth it as they’re the softest foam roller I can locate on the market. If you’re not ready to spend that kind of money though then the likes of Amazon offer some alternatives. The main thing you want is to get a foam roller that’s the length of your spine and that’s also soft so that it mostly works the fascia and doesn’t trigger muscle soreness.

Books

  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Maté
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind by Bessel van der Kolk

What have you found helps you manage your chronic illness or pain? Comment below and let me know.

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