Carer strain in Multiple Sclerosis: development of a new intervention

In this guest blog Kristy-Jane Martin gives details of a new study looking into the effects of caring for someone with MS.

carers weekResearch and clinical experience has shown that some carers of people with MS experience low mood and stress. Together, this is referred to as ‘carer strain’. Currently, there is no specific support available for carers in clinical practice. For any specific support to be made available through NHS services, research must show that the support that is provided is beneficial for carers of people with MS, and it should not cost too much. Carer strain and support has also been a topic identified by the MS Society as an important subject to focus on.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a talking therapy that has been found to be useful for people in distress. ACT teaches people to respond more effectively to difficult thoughts and feelings, so that they no longer are a barrier to living a full and enjoyable life. In the context of carer strain, ACT offers a range of strategies – including mindfulness techniques – that could help carers to better cope with their caring responsibilities and associated emotional demands. Our team has tested associated self-help versions of ACT on people with MS but not with carers of those with MS.

The study we are proposing will randomly allocate carers who are distressed to one of three groups: one group of carers will receive an ACT self-help book, one group will receive the ACT self-help book alongside telephone support from a trainee clinical psychologist, and a third group will continue with their usual treatment. The aim will be to compare the three groups 3 and 6 months after joining the study to see if there has been any reduction in carer strain.

The outcomes we feel might be of interest to carers are: carer strain, mood, and quality of life. We will also be looking at the cost-effectiveness of the ACT self-help to assess its applicability to the NHS.

The project will be carried out by Kristy-Jane Martin (Trainee Clinical Psychologist) as part of their doctoral training in Clinical Psychology. The project will be supervised by Prof. Roshan das Nair (Clinical Psychologist), Dr Nima Moghaddam (Clinical Psychologist and ACT specialist), and Dr Nikos Evangelou (MS Neurologist).

For more information please contact Kristy-Jane Martin at

Posted in Carer study, Carers, Caring, Chronic illness, Guest blog, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Research, Uncategorized, welfare | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Research shout out

Augusta University are asking people affected by multiple sclerosis to complete a survey about emotional well-being. You can complete the survey online.

MS Health Survey Flyer.jpg

Please note that this is an external survey.

Posted in disability, Disabled living, MS, MS News, Multiple Sclerosis, neurology, Research, Uncategorized, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you! #VolunteersWeek

We have been celebrating Volunteers’ Week since 01 June, and it has been great fun.

We know that our volunteers make a difference all year around, but we just wanted to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you!


Complete our online contact form if you would like to find out more about future volunteering opportunities.

Posted in Fundraising, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Volunteers Week | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Berenice’s volunteering story

Between 01 – 07 June, we are celebrating Volunteers’ Week. In this guest blog, Berenice shares her experiences of volunteering with MS-Ubt.jpgK…

I chose to become a volunteer at MS-UK as a Google Analytics Project Assistant not just to further my career prospects but also because it is such a great cause!

They do vital and amazing work to support people affected by multiple sclerosis and I wanted to be a part of it. I found volunteering for MS-UK a very rewarding experience.

I felt not only welcome and supported but an important contribution to the team.

After this volunteer project was over, I was able to gain temporary work with MS-UK and I am now working for St Helena Hospice full time.

I have always wanted to work for a charity so the voluntary work has helped me to achieve my dream!

I would like to thank MS-UK for such a great opportunity 🙂

Complete our online contact form if you would like to find out more about future volunteering opportunities.

Posted in Charity, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Volunteers Week | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Exercising with foot drop

Alan, our Wellness Coach.JPGMeet the expert
Alan Pearson is a Wellness Coach for MS-UK’s wellness centre, Josephs Court. Having spent over 15 years in the health and fitness industry, he has spent the last five years coaching, educating and helping people affected by multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

Mobilisation exercises

Toe pulls
In a seated position place your foot on a roller or tube to isolate the toes. Pull your toes up towards the knee. This will help the ankle joint.

Heel or toe rocking
This can be done in a seated or standing position (hold on if you have stability issues). Rock your foot from toe to heel. There are some exercise aids out there that can help from stability discs to heel toe rockers.

Ankle rotations
In a seated position try and circle your ankle in clockwise and anti-clockwise movements, if you can lift your leg across your opposite leg you can mobilise the ankle with your hand.

Flexibility and stretching of the lower leg muscles
These stretches can be done to help the calf muscles

Towel stretches for the calf muscles
Use a towel or resistance band over the toes and ball of foot. Hold the end of towel in both hands and pull towards the body, hold for 20 secs, release and then repeat.

Wall stretches for lower leg
Take a split stance position facing the wall, place hands on the wall and stretch out the back of the leg. You should be able to feel the stretch down the back of your calf. Now move your body weight forward and place weight over the front bent leg, you should feel the stretch in the lower portion of the leg.

To release soft tissue tension
This can be achieved with massage or the use of a foam roller, both will release muscle tension and promote blood flow.

Strengthening exercises

Static cycling on upright or re-cumbent cycle
The cycling action encourages repetitive movement of the ankle, which helps mobilise the joints and builds strength in the legs.

Ankle weight resistance band
Place the band around the feet and pull it up towards the body. This is a good exercise to strengthen the muscles. If movement is limited then the use of an active or passive cycle like Medicotech’s Thera-bike is very useful in getting the legs and feet moving. In addition, the use of a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) cycle, such as the Cyclone technologies RT300 for the lower body can be an effective machine.

TENS machine
A TENS machine can help stimulate the relevant muscles, but please get advice from your doctor before using.

I would suggest getting assessed or reviewed by a physical therapist or corrective exercise coach. By assessing range of motion, muscle imbalances, muscle weakness or neural impairment you can establish an effective exercise or activity plan that will maximise your outcome and provide a more positive outlook. Then you will feel confident that the exercises you are doing are relevant because it will also help set realistic goals and expectations.

The continuity of exercise is a big thing with any neurological conditions, good movement patterns need to be established daily and re-affirmed.

Exercise can help in many ways. Whether you get involved in a local exercise group or activity centre, or look online for exercises there is a lot of information out there. It may just inspire you to make the changes needed, or at least start thinking about it.

Subscribe to New Pathways magazine today to read issue 103 and discover more information about managing the symptoms of foot drop through exercise.

Important notice: Always seek the advice of your doctor or medical professional before attempting any exercises.

Posted in disability, Disabled living, Josephs Court, Mobilisation exercises, MS, MS exercises, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, neurology, New Pathways, Strengthening exercises, TENS machine, Uncategorized, wellbeing, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afternoon tea for Volunteers’ Week

Hi everyone,

Last Friday we hosted a small afternoon tea, to thank our local volunteers! This is part of the national Volunteers’ Week campaign.IMG_0722.JPG

Guests included people who support our work at Josephs Court, fundraising volunteers as well as some of our Trustees!

It was a great afternoon, with plenty of cake – all supplied by the Colchester branch of Marks & Spencer, who have nominated us as charity of the year – thank you!



It always amazes us how many people contribute to our work…we simply couldn’t be the charity we are today without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.

You can view our afternoon tea party photos on Facebook now.


Best wishes,

Jill and Sarah

Fundraising Manager and General Manager

Posted in cake, Colchester, Essex, FaceBook, family and MS, Marks and Spencer, MS, MS community, MS News, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Summer, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Volunteers’ Week!

Hi everyone,

Well, today makes the beginning of Volunteers’ Week, and we are excited to be celebrating!

We have created a short video sharing some of our volunteers’ stories…check it out today on our You Tube channel!

We are here to support people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) to make the most of today and live life to the full. But we couldn’t do it without our dedicated volunteers.

Every year, they take time out to help us make a difference. By volunteering with MS-UK, we can cheer on hundreds of MS-UK runners and cyclists, keep our office running smoothly and ensure the people who we support have a say in our services.

A huge thank you to everyone who volunteers with MS-UK, for making such a huge difference to our work, and for continuing to support us.

Best wishes,

The MS-UK team

Posted in blogging, Charity, Do your own thing, MS, MS community, MS-UK, MS-UK Virtual Insight Panel, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment