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S2 Episode 18

Episode 18: Using Exercise to Build Neuroplasticity

We all know that exercise is a key component of healthy living, and particularly important too if you have MS, which is why it plays such a prominent role as one of the steps of the OMS 7 Step Recovery Program. But did you know that when you’re exercising your body, you’re working out your nervous system as well? Our guest on this episode of Living Well with MS, Dr Gretchen Hawley, will explain neuroplasticity (for us lay people, that’s the brain’s ability to continually change, a sign of brain health) and how exercise can impact it, as well as share her insights on helping people with MS improve their strength, balance and mobility.

Gretchen Hawley is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist. After graduating from Simmons University in Boston, she developed a Multiple Sclerosis program alongside two of the city’s top MS neurologists. Dr Hawley utilizes the concept of neuroplasticity to improve strength, balance and walking in those with MS by using specific, functional exercises. She has been a keynote speaker at several National MS Society events and other MS focused conferences in 2018 and 2019 and presents frequently to MS groups. Dr Hawley brings a keen understanding of the challenges faced by people living with MS and has developed a virtual physical therapy program to help people improve their MS symptoms while in the comfort of their own home and guided by an MS specialist. Dr Hawley resides in Buffalo with her dog, Finn.  

Questions covered:
• How is MS physical therapy different from orthopedic/”regular” physical therapy?
• What are some of the pitfalls for someone with MS who doesn’t get specialized PT?
• What is neuroplasticity and how does it work?
• What are some tips to manage fatigue when exercising, and how can exercise help with fatigue?
• How do you handle goal setting with your PT?
• Tell us about your program, MSing Link?
• How is it designed to help people with MS who don’t have access to a PT who specializes in MS?

The MSing Link
About Gretchen Hawley

On the next episode of Living Well with MS, Geoff Allix explores the power journaling has to help heal the body with Mari L. McCarthy, an award-winning and international bestselling author of books such as Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live and Heal Yourself with Journaling Power. The power of Mari’s own story and the impact she has had on people all over the world will open your eyes.

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