By SPEM

The Portuguese MS Society (SPEM) plans to relocate, expand and modernise the only rehabilitation centre in the country exclusively dedicated to people living with multiple sclerosis. The related work is to be completed by the end of 2017. Article from EMSP’s Membership Newsletter.

The MS Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Lisbon operates since 2004, offering specialised care. SPEM intends to renovate a nearby building and transfer the entire centre. The process includes improving the working conditions and technical facilities. In this way, it will also be possible to accommodate more staff.

A dream come true

SPEM’s Vice-President, Susana Protásio, speaks about this project as a ‘dream come true’:

“The centre’s current space and facilities were evidently not coping with the increasing number of people looking for our physiotherapy, as well as our occupational and speech therapy services.

This is an important goal for us in 2017. We will be able to help a larger group of people with MS and other neurological disorders.”

As Ms Protásio indicates, the new centre will be able to welcome 200 patients every month, doubling the current number. Furthermore, it will become available to people with other neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).

Picture: Carolina Rodrigues, physiotherapist, assisting an MS patient (SPEM archive)

40,000 euros for ‘vital’ services

The total costs are expected to be in the region of 40,000 euros. But the benefits for those affected are priceless. Rosário Barreiro has been visiting the Lisbon centre for 12 years and says it provides much more than MS therapies:

“The centre is vital in regaining some of my body functions because the medication by itself is not enough. The physiotherapy service helps me on a daily basis. I also like to come here because the staff listen to my problems, talk to me and become my confidants.

The time spent here makes a huge difference for me. The bicycle is helping me a lot. Before, I couldn’t even pedal. I’m much better now. I’m regaining my muscle mass, improving my fatigue levels and my resistance.”

‘It makes me happy’

Picture: Fátima Ruivo, speech therapist, during one of her sessions (SPEM archive)

Ana Laia has only been going to the centre for four months but says the exercises and the company have already made her a happier person:

“It helps with my mobility and allows me to be more comfortable with my body. It is also a good reason to get out of the house. In the past, I used to spend all my days on the couch. But now I’ve noticed an increase in my stamina and balance. Plus, nobody pities me here.”

The Portuguese MS Society was able to secure most of the money needed for the new rehabilitation centre through fundraising. And is currently negotiating at national and European level for additional funds.

Around 8,000 people live with multiple sclerosis in Portugal.