Role of Physiotherapy

What is the role of the physiotherapist in MS clinic?

Physiotherapists work with you to manage your symptoms, improve your mobility and help you achieve the goals that are important to you. 

Physiotherapists can assist in the assessment and management of these common symptoms:

  • Walking problems
  • Balance problems
  • Weakness
  • Spasticity/spasms
  • Stiffness
  • Bladder/Incontinence
  • Pain
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Fatigue

The Physiotherapists working in the Monash Health MS Clinic have extensive experience in working with people with neurological conditions.  They play a consultative role in the clinic in completing a comprehensive assessment of your needs and working with you to formulate a suitable management plan.  This might include:

  • Referrals to local public or private outpatient and community rehabilitation programs. 
  • Referrals to other allied health disciplines including but not limited to:  Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Neuropsychology, Speech Pathology, Dietetics, Orthotists. 
  • Education and advice
  • Provision of a home based exercise program
  • Referrals to Monash Health Clinical Gait Analysis Service (HYPERLINK TO: for more detailed mobility assessment to facilitate management decision making
  • Support with applications for and provision of equipment eg. Orthotics
  • Support with NDIS applications


When and how to seek input from the physiotherapist?

  1. New walking, balance, weakness, spasm and pain problems 
  2. New or more frequent falls
  3. Following new diagnosis of MS to establish a self-management plan
  4. Following a relapse
  5. For information on NDIS or NDIS support


If you are a client of the Monash MS Clinic and would like to be referred or get in touch with the physiotherapist, please discuss this with your MS neurologist or contact the physiotherapist via  [email protected]


Exercise and MS – is it safe?

“Exercise not only changes the body, it changes the mind, your attitude and your mood”. Unknown Author.  

Over the last 20 years growing evidence has shown that exercises used as part of an individualised program can increase activity and improve the health and wellbeing of people with MS.  

Traditionally, people with MS have sought advice on exercise or rehabilitation once they have developed functional movement difficulties. However, recent evidence highlights the benefits of exercise as an early intervention, even before clinical symptoms of MS are observed.

Results from randomised controlled clinical trials of exercise programs in MS have demonstrated benefits in muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, aerobic thresholds and activity levels, and functional improvements, such as walking ability.

The Canadian government has released physical activity guidelines specific to MS. They recommend that for people with mild to moderate MS you should be aiming for 30 mins of moderate intensity aerobic exercise 2 x per week and 2 strength training sessions.

Moderate intensity physical activity will be different for everyone- it might be walking the dog, riding your bike to the shops or doing the gardening. The key is you should be a little puffed but still able to talk. 

Many Australians do not meet the recommended amount of physical activity, we are just not active enough. This is the same for people in Australia with MS. So doing any physical activity is better than doing none!

Exercise is generally highly valued by people with MS who report improvements in mood and quality of life.

NDIS – What is it and can it help me?

NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The NDIS is Australias first national scheme for people with disability. 

The NDIS provides reasonable and necessary funding to people with a permanent and significant disability to access the supports and services they need to live and enjoy their life. Every NDIS participant has an individual plan that lists their goals and funding. NDIS participants use their funding to purchase supports and services to help them achieve their goals. Everyone has different goals. Goals might include things like volunteering, getting and keeping a job, making friends or participating in a local community activity.

In order to be eligible you need to be:

  • Under the age of 65 years
  • Permanent Australian resident
  • Needing of support so that you can complete everyday tasks or participate in the community
  • Needing of supports now to reduce your future needs

To apply:

  1. Call the NDIS on 1900 800 110 and ask to make an Access Request
  2. In conjunction with your medical professional (ie GP), complete and submit the Access Request Form and return it within 30 days. 

For more information on the NDIS please see the following link:

What community physiotherapy services are available?

  • Community Rehabilitation Centre (CRC) 
    • Provides a short term, goal directed block of therapy following a relapse or hospital admission/intervention. To be eligible you need clear goals that can be achieved in 4-6 weeks. 
    • Eg. A relapse has caused right leg weakness. Usually you can walk far enough to do the shopping and walk the children to school. At the moment you need a walking stick to help with your balance and you can only walk around your house. Your goal is to return to walking outdoors without your walking stick in the next month. 
  • Community Health Service
    • Supports you through all stages of MS by providing health education and treatment with a focus on self-management. 
    • Eg. You have been noticing a gradual decline in your strength and weakness that is not related to a relapse. You need a physiotherapist to assess your problems, help you develop a management plan and monitor you over time
  • Private Outpatient Neurological Physiotherapists
    • There are a number of private physiotherapists around Melbourne that have experience in managing neurological conditions such as MS. If you have private health insurance you may be eligible for a subsidized rate. If you have NDIS funding it may cover the cost for you. 
    • They will be able to complete a full neurological physiotherapy assessment with you that usually goes for up to 1.5 hours.

Other useful links:

If you are a client of the Monash MS Clinic and would like to be referred or get in touch with the physiotherapist, please discuss this with your MS neurologist or contact the physiotherapist via  [email protected]