Training of Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapists for persons with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic incurable disease in which the insulating layers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to deteriorating symptoms such as fatigue, numbness, difficulty in walking and speaking, and impaired vision. In recent times, the number of people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis in India has increased from 1 per lakh people to 3 per lakh people, leading to an estimated 90,000 cases in the country, of which 3,500 can be found in the city of Mumbai.
The symptoms of this debilitating condition first appear when patients are in the prime of their lives, but it is not fatal. Over a period of 15-20 years, patients find themselves becoming more and more disabled, with the disease taking a toll on both their lives and that of their family – physically, emotionally and financially, for many years.
The only treatment for Multiple Sclerosis is to detect the condition in its early stages and delay its progression through lifestyle adjustments and a regimen of medicines that cost between INR 40,000 to INR 70,000 per month. In India, the lack of diagnosis and affordable health care are the biggest challenges faced by Multiple Sclerosis patients. However, support groups such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) are helping patients cope, and are also lobbying with the government for policy changes, to give these patients access to affordable health care and disability benefits.
The Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation supports the Mumbai chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India by funding their initiative to train physiotherapists and occupational therapists who help rehabilitate patients and increase the quality of their lives.
Initiated in 2011, the project aims to create a pool of trained and certified physiotherapists specialising in the care of Multiple Sclerosis patients and to give these patients subsidised home physio/occupational therapies.
As a result of the support rendered to the project, 44 MSSI certified therapists have been regularly visiting 59 patients at their homes, thrice a week. This provides these patients with much needed access to qualified physio/occupational therapists at concessional rates, thereby helping both the patients and their families to cope with this debilitating illness.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI) is a registered voluntary, non-profit organisation working to promote the welfare of people with Multiple Sclerosis in India. The Society is a member of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation based in London, UK. In Mumbai, MSSI helps 400 patients by providing them with physiotherapy and occupational therapy, financial aid, awareness programmes, counselling and nursing services.