Skiing with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis: What is it?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system. In MS, the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms. As the central nervous system links all bodily activities, many different types of symptoms can appear in. The specific symptoms that appear depend upon which part of your central nervous system is affected and the job of the damaged nerve. These can range from physical symptoms such as issues with balance, vision, fatigue, stiffness and spasms to problems with memory and thought processes.
About 100,000 people in the UK have MS. The cause of MS is not exactly clear, but it is thought to be a combination of genes and environmental factors. There is also some evidence to suggest some viruses may play a part in triggering the condition.
There are three different types of MS; relapsing remitting, secondary progressive and primary progressive. It is also possible for a person to be diagnosed retrospectively with benign MS if they have had a small number of relapses but have made complete recovery.
(The above information is used courtesy of http://www.mssociety.org.uk)
Skiing with Multiple Sclerosis
A person with MS can ski and enjoy the mountains with family and friends! Ski 2 Freedom has many clients who have discovered the joys of the snow and magic of the mountains. Most ski schools which have qualified instructors for disabled and adaptive skiing and snow sports should be able to work with children and adults who have balance or mobility issues and conditions relating to MS.
Confidence on the snow is the key issue and it is well worth investing in the excellent private tuition that is on offer by the ski schools. Once the person has gained the basic skills then there is no reason why the family cannot all ski together- it is also a good idea to return to the same ski resort for a couple of winters just to maintain that special relationship and new found confidence.
Your initial enquiry to the ski school should include as much background information on the skier as possible. If the skier has skied before, it can be incredibly useful to dig out old photographs or even video footage of them skiing previously to send to the ski school so that they can get a good idea of their level. Discussing in detail the skier’s specific needs and condition(s) is VITAL to ensure both the ski school and you know what is going to happen and to ensure you are matched with the right ski instructor and/or equipment. This may include a discussion about other associated health and social needs such as epilepsy, asthma, communication and social awareness skills and any recent medical developments. This is especially important in the case of MS as symptoms may vary hugely between two people with the same condition.
In some cases when a person is new to the slopes or not a very confident skier or there are mobility issues, then why not have an hour or so on the piste with a qualified ski instructor 1:1, then take the opportunity hiring the instructor to whizz your child around the slopes with the rest of the family using a Tandemski or sit-ski (dual ski pilot) - he or she gets the chance to relax a bit and be with brothers, sisters, parent and friends! A lot of fun and laughter can be had!
Equipment and Clothing
Many of the ski schools have a good idea of what is required especially when it comes to equipment and clothing, in particular the ski boots. Do ensure that you ask the ski school if they can recommend a ski hire shop for such items. Whether special ski equipment is required will depend on the degree of the disability (i.e. whether there are mobility/balance issues etc.), but fundamental to the experience will be a good knowledge and understanding of the skier’s needs so that a trusting relationship can be developed between instructor and pupil.
Where the action is: Ski Schools
In Europe, the US, Canada and worldwide there will be ski instructors with experience in disabled and adaptive skiing tuition, therefore it is more than likely that whichever resort you choose there will be someone who will be able to help you. However, going somewhere where skiers with a similar condition have gone before, may well be a source of comfort and reassurance. We are delighted to be able to list below all of those schools, of which we have personal experience ( clicking on the link will take you to our Accessible Resort Guide for further information on the ski school and resort): If the resorts below do not yet feature on the Accessible Resort Guide please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Loisirs Assis Evasion Passy, Mont Blanc region
Prosneige Val Thorens
ESF Arcs 2000
ESF Belle Plagne
ESF La Rosiere
ESF Les Gets
ESF Val d’Isere
ESF Val Thorens
Evolution 2 – Tignes
Evolution 2 – Val d’Isere
Oxygene La Plagne
ZigZag International Ski School – Samoens
Active Motion – available most Swiss ski resorts
Handiconcept - Villars
European Snowsports Verbier
Redpoint Adaptive Ski Programme – Zem am Zillar
Freizit – Schladming
Ski 4 All – Zell am See
Active Therapy St.Anton
If you would like information on other ski resorts please go direct to our Accessible Resort Guide or contact us at email@example.com.
We are delighted to be able to share information and feedback from families who ski and understand the problems associated with Multiple Sclerosis on our Personal Stories page
Useful Resources and Links:
The Multiple Sclerosis Society- a UK based charity dedicated to funding research, campaigning and offering support to people with MS and their families
Skiing with disabilities
Click here for information on skiing with a specific disability or special need.
Accessible resort guide
The Ski 2 Freedom Accessible resort guide has a wealth of information to help you find your ideal accessible ski resort.
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