Lifestyle Modifications that Make a Difference in Secondary Progressive MS

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Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) can interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks, whether at home or work. Your symptoms will gradually change. Your symptoms may change over time. You may have to adapt your daily routine or your surroundings to accommodate your changing needs.

You can take many steps to manage your SPMS and maintain your quality of life. Consider modifying your lifestyle, asking for accommodations at work, or adjusting your living space. Learn about the SPMS strategies that can make your life easier.

Practice a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy habits are important for managing symptoms and staying fit when you have a chronic illness like SPMS. A well-balanced, active diet and weight management can improve your mood, energy, strength, and cognitive function. Your doctor may recommend changes to your weight management plan, diet, or exercise routine based on your current habits.

It is important to get enough sleep when you suffer from SPMS. Tell your doctor if you have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time. They may recommend a change in your sleep schedule or bedroom environment.

To promote your overall health, it’s important to also avoid smoking tobacco. Ask your doctor about resources and tips to help you stop smoking if you smoke.

Use mobility devices.

Tell your doctor or therapist if you are losing your balance or tripping. Your doctor or rehabilitation therapist may recommend a change in your medication, suggest rehabilitation exercises, and encourage you to use mobility aids.

You could, for example, benefit from:

  • An AFO is a type of brace that’s commonly used.
  • A functional electrical stimulation device that helps activate the muscles in your legs
  • Cane, crutches, or a walker
  • A scooter or wheelchair

These devices can help you avoid trips and falls. They may also reduce fatigue and improve your level of activity. This can have an impact on your quality of life and fitness.

Modify your home.

You can adjust your living space in order to manage any symptoms you may be experiencing. Even familiar places can be difficult to navigate if you have vision problems, mobility issues, or other difficulties.

It could be useful to:

  • Remove anything you don’t need or want. Reduce clutter to make it easier for you to maintain your home and find the things you need.
  • Organize your storage areas to make items that are frequently used accessible. It is important to do this if you have difficulty climbing stairs, reaching high places, or lifting heavy objects.
  • Adjust furniture, carpets, and other items so that you can navigate your wheelchair or walk freely.
  • Install grab bars and handrails to assist you in standing up, sitting down, and moving around.
  • Replace or raise low chairs, beds, and toilet seats so that they are easier to get out of. You may need to adjust the heights of objects and areas such as tables, counters, light switches, phones, etc. if you use a wheelchair.
  • Install electric stair lifts or ramps to avoid stairs or elevated entrance ways. You may also want to consider installing transfer lifts around your bathtub, bed, or other areas.

There are many other ways to make your home safer, more comfortable, and easier to navigate if you have SPMS. Speak to your occupational therapist for more information and resources. You can also learn more about vehicle modifications from your occupational therapist.

Request Accommodations at Work

Many adjustments can be made in your workplace, just as you would at home, to make it more comfortable and safer for someone with SPMS.

Many employers in the United States are legally required to make reasonable accommodations for their employees with disabilities. Your employer may be able, for example:

  • You may need to adjust your job responsibilities or role.
  • You can transition from full-time employment to part-time.
  • Give you extra time for sick leave or medical appointments.
  • Allow you to work from home occasionally or regularly.
  • Move your desk or parking space to make it more accessible.
  • Install grab bars at the toilets, ramps near the entrances, or automatic door openers.

The right to accommodation is dependent on the employer you work for and your disability status.

You can learn more about your rights if you work and live in the United States by visiting the Job Accommodations Network of the U.S. Department of Labour.


SPMS offers a number of strategies to help you adapt it to your specific needs.

Talk to your doctor, therapist, or other members of the healthcare team for more information and resources. You can learn to adapt your daily routines and environment. They may recommend assistive devices and other tools to help with daily tasks.

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