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Please find below our"feature article" taken from a TTNO newsletter.
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Therapeutic Touch and Multiple Sclerosis

By Kathy Wilmering

(This article originally appeared in the Cooperative Connection, the bi-monthly publication of Nurse Healers-Professional Associates International, Inc. It is printed with permission.)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a multifaceted condition with different manifestations in each person: As they say in the perfume commercial, so 'Mary on Mary, so Johnny on Johnny'. What I say here, then will have to be adapted to the specific individual.

People with MS are extremely sensitive to energy changes. The first time I was in a workshop, four eager new practitioners went to work on my spastic legs. By the end of my workshop I had to be helped to the car and I had to stay in bed the next day until my legs became less flaccid. The good news was that I had a stunning experience of the reality of energy flow in human systems.

This sensitivity may manifest in an energy field that extends much further from the body than usual. Often when people begin to work on some areas of me they have to stand a foot or more away. If they don't, I become nauseated, twitchy, and more ataxic than usual. Sometimes hands-on work makes this less of an issue but only if the practitioner is deeply centered and grounded and slowly and smoothly modulates the energy.

The MS healee must know that her feedback will be accepted and immediately heeded. I have had to work hard on my discomfort at having to ask so often for people to modulate what they are doing. I feel like the fairytale princess in the story who could feel the tiny pea beneath twenty mattresses.

Having listed these cautions, I reassure the practitioners that Therapeutic Touch is helpful to those with MS, especially cumulatively. My first time at TT camp at Indralaya was as a patient in 1995. Vertigo, ataxia, an especially spastic left leg that spasmed, nystagmus and intense nerve pain in both my shoulders, arms, and hands were some of the symptoms that plagued me, as well as left sided weakness. I had carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic head and neck pain from using my canes.

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I was usually in Dora's group. She frequently would start at my neck and slowly move down to the lumbar area as she rubbed circularly on my back. She would have people work hands on moving energy down my legs and especially would have them work smoothly and vigorously on my feet.

I could not sit unaided on the benches, as my lack of position sense meant that if I relaxed and stopped using my eyes to tell where I was in space, I would fall backwards.

Either she or someone else would have me lean against their body or hands as they worked.

Directly after the treatment I would not feel any different, but when I'd lie down, I'd feel like a rag doll and would drift off into a deep sleep. When I woke up, my balance would be better for a while and I'd feel more energy and less pain.

From most practitioners I get the most relief from slow, smooth, and sometimes long movements Choppy motions usually make me seasick and weak.

TT applied consistently was helpful in decreasing pain, spasticity, and nystagmus, increasing energy, and decreasing anxiety. It was not helpful for other mood symptoms or for cognitive ones (short term memory problems and impaired executive functioning). I experienced more benefit when I combined it with other modalities.

Experiencing others doing Therapeutic Touch
with me gave me the sense of how to move my own energy. Although when I'm substantially symptomatic my work with myself is not hugely effective. At other times I can give myself some relief. An example is when I trekked in Nepal and had to sleep on the hard ground after a day of using my canes. Stretching out to sleep induced painful leg spasms. Some hands-on work pulling energy out of my feet gave enough relief that with a minute dose of Baclofen I could sleep. Sometimes I could do it; sometimes someone else had to. This situation required firm hands on my lower legs pulling down with pressure and then across the tops and bottoms of my feet and out.

Kathey Wilmering, MSW, APRN, BC, has practised Therapeutic Touch
since 1995. She has had MS for 26 years. She can be reached at kwilmering@Quidnunc.net.


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