In a survey of its members conducted by the MS Society of Ireland, access to physiotherapy was reported as the greatest unmet need. This national multicenter profiling study surveyed people with multiple sclerosis (MS) receiving physiotherapy services at a range of locations to determine their characteristics and the amount of intervention received. A standardized data-collection sheet was developed, and data were collected over a 3-month period. The lower-extremity section of the Guys Neurological Disability Scale was used to classify mobility level, which varied widely. A total of 295 people received physiotherapy at 17 services during the 3-month period. Of these, 72% were female, and most had relapsing-remitting (43%) or secondary progressive MS (39%). Those using walking aids made up the largest proportion of participants (47.5%). On average, participants received 3.6 hours of physiotherapy over the 3-month period, with 36% of participants receiving 1 hour or less and 9.5% of participants receiving more than 8 hours. The main problems cited were balance, fatigue, walking, mobility, and strength. Further research is required to determine whether the small amount of physiotherapy being received by MS patients in Ireland is sufficient to bring about improvement or prevent further deterioration in functional status.

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Author notes

From the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland (SC); Dublin Physiotherapy Clinic, Dublin, Ireland (GM); and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland (MS).