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ATM Classes for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

The Southern California Chapter of the MS Society has been running an Awareness Through Movement® class almost continuously since early 1997 with the help of Feldenkrais® practitioner Beth Rubenstein.

The day-time class size is small, allowing individual attention. Five students have been coming regularly since the beginning, and others drop in as they are able. The regulars bring their friends to classes. “They really want more people to come and do it,” says Beth.

All functional issues are addressed. The students learn simple and elegant ways to climb stairs, get in and out of the car, and balance when walking. The students learn to their great surprise that they can feel comfortable being on the floor. In the past, when it was so difficult, getting up from the floor was their enemy. As Beth has observed, “Getting up from the flooris really important, because the person now knows that if they fall, they can get up with ease and dignity.”

A great challenge for those with MS is the variability from day to day. Through the Feldenkrais Method® they learn a process to scan themselves and evaluate what is working best; further they learn they have options for alternatives each day.

Arnie was an engineer for a large toy company. He has had MS for quite a while. Now retired and avid skeet shooter, he found that the disease was limiting his satisfaction with this hobby due to reduced balance and fatigue. Since taking the class, his balance and fatigue are better. Further, he finds that the scientific aspects of the course are very satisfying.

Some people with MS appear quite functional; thus their families may expect them to keep up with a day’s activities. However, the next day they are bed ridden, exhausted. Through the ATM class, the students learn the early signals of fatigue; they then can take this learning back into their activities and can stop and rest before exhaustion.

Beth says, “The LA MS Society loves the classes and wants them all over.” They invite her regularly to speak at large conferences. Other classes around LA are also being advertised by the MS Society.

Beth adds, “I really believe that this is the best for people with MS because the FM addresses the personal differences. The person can learn to be aware of their fatigue and thus have choices for enriching their lives.”

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