Borders Sport and Leisure is collaborating with the Multiple Sclerosis Society Borders on a three-year programme to provide Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers with free access to their gyms. MS sufferers then work with specially trained health and fitness instructors using vibration training machines (see pictures). Vibration training helps to ease and manage the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
How did it start?
The programme started in January 2013 following a successful eight-week trial, which explored the effectiveness of vibration training in improving health, fitness and wellbeing among people having to live with Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision (source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society). We want to use our expertise to help people to better manage and cope with this disease.
Why is this project important?
This type of programme fits perfectly with our vision to improve lives through physical activity and sport. Also, Multiple Sclerosis is statistically more prevalent in the Scottish Borders than other areas of the UK. Vibration technology is proven to help ease Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, so we are pleased to be able to offer local residents access to this life-changing programme.
The MS Society has financed the purchase of the specialist vibration training machines. We provide free access to three of our gyms under the supervision of trained health and fitness instructors.
We currently have approximately 20 Multiple Sclerosis sufferers on the programme. People are finding the programme is helping to improve muscle power, strength and overall mobility. For example, Sarah Calder, aged 46 who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for four years says: “The sessions are an essential part of my life. They provide safe exercising, are energising, relieve stiffness and aid my mobility”.
The programme has been evaluated using the concept of ‘social return on investment’. This is an analytic tool for measuring and accounting for a much broader concept of value, taking into account social, economic and environmental factors. Our programme shows that for every £1 invested, there is a ‘social value’ return of £4.
We also believe this programme can be used by other centres in the UK and overseas as an example of how health and leisure providers can partner with charities who support people living with life-changing diseases.
There are approximately 100,000 people in the UK living with Multiple Sclerosis, many of whom are aged between 20-40 (Multiple Sclerosis Society). Once someone has Multiple Sclerosis, they have to learn to live with the condition for the rest of their life, generally relying on powerful drugs to control the symptoms. How amazing therefore, for leisure centres to step in and use the wonder of physical activity to enrich the lives of people learning to cope with this disease.