Many patients decide to undergo physical therapy for MS. It has been established that a well thought out physical therapy regimen is beneficial to maintaining and even improving a patient’s function, it isn’t something you just jump into and star doing. A thorough history of the patient must be documented and understood by the therapist so that a baseline can be established. The history has to include the diagnosis date, initial level of symptoms, other health problems the patient may be having not related to the MS and what the patient’s top problems are in living with the disease. Once the history is documented, the therapist usually wants to get an idea of the prior level of activity the patient enjoyed prior to diagnosis. This history can then be complied and prioritized so the patient and the therapist can set goals and milestones for the physical therapy for MS to determine progress and make adjustments.


The assessment itself can be very time consuming


The results of the therapy will in large part be based upon the thoroughness of the initial assessment. It can take a long time and might be spread over several sessions so as to avoid patient fatigue. There are many standardized tests to use. And depending upon the top problems, different assessments might be used. Along with the therapist’s own personal assessment routine, the physical therapy for MS should include at a minimum the few routine tests standardized specifically for MS. These tests currently include:

  • MS Functional Composite (MSFC), which includes the 25-foot walk assessment
  • Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS)—performed by a trained physician and nurse practitioner
  • MS Fatigue Impact Scale (MSFIS)
  • Disease Steps (DS)
  • MS Walking Scale-12 (MSWS-12), self-reported by the patient


Some other tests used may be:

  • The Berg Balance Scale
  • (ABC) the Activities Specific Balance Confidence
  • (TUG) Timed up and go
  • Borg’s Rate of Perceived Exertion


The physical therapy for MS should be performed at a facility specifically operated as an MS physical therapy center. MS is a complex disease and the general Physical Therapy centers that can be found in almost every medical office complex is just not equipped to handle MS patients. If a facility or doctor wants to start your physical therapy for MS without a thorough assessment, you should not go back.  They are clearly not familiar enough with your disease to be of much help. Take a look again at that first list of standardized tests. Make sure they are done. And if they are not part of the original assessment, there should be a good reason why.