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11/1/2012 6:01:00 AM
Water can provide relief for those with multiple sclerosis
Annette Davis (center) and Pati Green (right) recently started an aquatic recreational therapy class for people with multiple sclerosis at the Del E. Webb Wellness Center. Jana Selk (left) helps Green, who has multiple sclerosis, through some of the exercises.
Annette Davis (center) and Pati Green (right) recently started an aquatic recreational therapy class for people with multiple sclerosis at the Del E. Webb Wellness Center. Jana Selk (left) helps Green, who has multiple sclerosis, through some of the exercises.

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

Twenty years ago, Pati Green was your average working mom. After a long day at work and taking her son to his Boy Scout meeting, she made dinner, tucked her three kids in bed and fell asleep.

"The next morning I woke up blind," she said. "I couldn't see. I was terrified."

It took months of poking, prodding, scans and other tests before doctors were finally able to diagnose Green with multiple sclerosis.

"I thought, 'Thank God, it's only (multiple sclerosis.) What's MS?'" she said.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that tricks the body's immune system into attacking the central nervous system, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Doctors don't know what causes the disease and there is no cure.

The symptoms of the disease include changes in vision, fatigue, numbness, problems with balance, problems with walking, tremors, emotional changes and problems thinking clearly. Every person with multiple sclerosis has a different experience, Green said. Some people only experience one symptom, some have multiple symptoms and others, like Green, have symptoms that come and go and change over time.

It took Green four months to get her eyesight back. She currently walks with a cane, but has been working steadily with Annette Davis, who holds recreational therapy classes for people who have arthritis in the swimming pool at the Del E. Webb Wellness Center.

On Oct. 2, Davis started offering one-hour aquatic recreational therapy classes specifically for multiple sclerosis at 3 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the wellness center, 1719 Beverly Ave.

The classes are free to members of the wellness center and $8 per class for non-members. Davis and Green are seeking grant funding for scholarships so anyone in the community with multiple sclerosis will have a chance to take the class.

Anyone interested in taking the class but is afraid of being in the water alone can bring a trusted friend, or Davis will pair them with one of the students from her arthritis class.

"I'm not a physical therapist, but I am certified by the Arthritis Foundation and now the National MS Society to instruct recreational therapy classes both on land and in the water," Davis said.

People with MS have many of the same mobility issues as people who have arthritis, she said. The natural buoyancy of water makes it easier for people to keep their balance and provides some resistance to movement.

"The water is so relaxing. It releases a lot of the tension that can build up in my muscles," Green said. "It's low impact.

"You basically have to go through a process of elimination."

Green also holds an MS support group from 3 to 5 p.m. every third Sunday in the Cholla Room at Kingman Regional Medical Center, 3269 Stockton Hill Road.

Since she started taking classes with Annette, Green's mobility has improved to the point that sometimes she doesn't need her cane to get around.

However, even on her really good days, Green will take her cane and her disabled parking tag with her when she goes to the store.

"I know I'm going to get some looks when I get out of the car after parking it in a handicapped spot," she said. "But I also know that after wandering up and down the aisles of the grocery store and standing in the checkout line, I may not make it back to the car, if I'm parked out in the back 40.

"It's one of those invisible diseases."

For more information on the Kingman MS Support Group, contact Green at (928) 530-7982 or send an email to

You can also visit the group on Faceboook at

For more information on Davis' aquatics classes contact the Del. E. Webb Wellness Center at (928) 692-4600.

For more information on MS, visit or call (800) 344-4867.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Article comment by: Cathey Thomas

Abduwali Mohammed said, "Water is extremely difficult for MS Patients. It drains them of energy....."

I'm sorry but I have to strongly disagree. I don't see how the "water" aspect of bathing or swimming could possibly be "extremely bad" for anyone with intact skin. Are you sure it isn't just WARM or HOT water that is so draining? As an MS patient myself, I've found that tepid showers are perfectly FINE and cool or cold ones even better as long as they don't trigger extremity cramps.
Like roughly 80% of MS patients, ANYTHING that raises my body temp even a fraction of a degree, whether it's too-warm water or too-warm air, causes profound weakness and exacerbates other symptoms. So I stay strictly out of hot tubs or even very warm baths and showers, and obviously no saunas or steam rooms either. I live in central Texas and am trapped inside by the heat for almost half the year, but I definitely benefit from swimming in an icy cold spring-fed pool it's incredibly energizing and renewing. I feel better and can function and even THINK much more clearly after a cold swim.

Non-warm water is wonderfully restorative swimming or exercising in a pool is great for me as long as I don't get overheated. Wet is is a disaster.

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012
Article comment by: Mr. Obvious

As yet another person with MS, I agree with Patricia in regards to almost always helps me. It obviously can vary to person to person.

Any thing hot, hot tub, hot bath, hot parking lot, hot office room...all bad, but a nice cool pool is, well, cool. For those with MS that can't put our full weight on a limb, the pool almost alleviates this problem.

Water therapy has long been a form of treatment and an exercise option for those of us that have this disease.

Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Article comment by: Patricia Green

Thank you Suzanne for the great front page coverage and it was such a pleasure to meet you Tuesday. Both Annette and I are very pleased with the way the article was written. It was factual, informative and hopefully will draw more awareness to the local, state and National MS Society and to some of services and classes available through the Wellness Center. Our local support group is still relatively new as it was just started in December 2011 by Ralph Scarabino. I would like to clarify that Ralph and I co-lead the same group and he can be contacted as well at 928-897-3801 or We are both working very hard along with our state and national chapters to bring more services to the kingman MS Community.

As to Abduwali Mohammed's I stated in the interview 'Every person with multiple sclerosis has a different experience'. While I would agree that hot tubs, hot showers, even hot baths do tend to have the effects you mentioned above, but for most people dealing with MS, the water exercises provide a buoyancy or feeling of weightlessness that allows most to do stretches and movements that some would not be able to do otherwise. I am truly sorry this has not been your experience.

Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Article comment by: Abduwali Mohammed

Water is extremely difficult for MS Patients. It drains them of energy and hightens their systems.

I have had MS for 18 years and cannot shower daily - or else I would not be able to walk or perform daily tasks.

A swim is nice - but as MS worsens - water becomes more intolerable.

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