Lucy Gallagher: One Woman Challenged by Multiple Sclerosis Finds Hope in Physical Therapy
As an energetic, busy mom of three children, South Shore resident Lucy Gallagher never expected to be diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS). After many years struggling with relentless fatigue, pain and weakness on one side of her body, Lucy had mixed emotions when the mystery of her symptoms had finally been solved. “I felt both shocked and relieved over the diagnosis. I was relieved because I finally knew what to expect and what I could potentially do to live a better quality of life,” Lucy explained. Lucy’s attitude and spirit are not only evident to her children and husband of over 20 years, but to every person she encounters. “I’m still me... this is just a glitch,“ Lucy described of her diagnosis.
South Shore Hospital’s physical therapists incorporate specialized land and water therapy for multiple sclerosis patients like Lucy — with the primary goal of improving function, building strength and reducing fatigue. The therapists teach a variety of stretching, range-of-motion, muscle-strengthening, and aerobic exercises to help patients feel better while easing symptoms. “When I first came to therapy, I could barely lift my left leg to walk—it was so incredibly swollen that it interfered with all movement,” Lucy said.
"Now, since I’ve developed more strength and improved movement, you may even catch me walking around my home at times with no cane."
Dealing with a challenging diagnosis like MS can often make it tempting to avoid exercise altogether, with the fear of discomfort and pain. The physical therapists at South Shore Hospital tailor exercise plans specific to the unique needs of each patient, including their strengths and limitations. For Lucy, she has found great success with the benefits of aquatic therapy twice a week. In the pool, she works to improve her range-of-motion and balance, while enhancing her muscle strength.
“I can’t begin to say enough about the wonderful support I’ve had at South Shore Hospital,” Lucy said. “Going to PT each week has been a constant source of encouragement. Though my disease is progressive, my quality of life has vastly improved through regular physical therapy. I hope my success with PT will increase awareness about its benefits to people with similar diagnoses and inspire them to never give up hope."