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Multiple sclerosis, work and occupational therapy

The unpredictable nature of multiple sclerosis can bring some challenges for work and careers for people diagnosed with the condition.

The Equality Act says employers are expected to consider making 'reasonable adjustments' to a worker's tasks or business premises. The law doesn’t define 'reasonable', but it may include flexible hours, better accessibility in a building or being able to work from home.

The legislation also protects people with MS against any unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace related to their condition.

An occupational therapist may be able to help recommend adjustments. Some employers have these working in the HR department, or ask for a referral through your GP or MS nurse.

Some people with MS prefer to have a career change after their diagnosis. Under employment law, having MS shouldn’t be a barrier when applying for most jobs.

How do I find a job that matches my skills?

Vocational assessment and rehabilitation can help you find a job that matches your skills and abilities. Vocational assessment tests your transferable skills to assess your aptitudes, vocational interests, and strengths and limitations. This assessment also measures your general abilities and specific needs and interests. Part of vocational assessment is career exploration, which introduces you to the many resources available for making career choices. You can:

  • See what kind of jobs are available
  • Clarify your aptitudes and abilities
  • Research career interests
  • Identify occupational preferences
  • Define vocational goals

Can I get help with work-related issues?

Individual and group counselling helps you cope with issues related to returning to work, including:

  • Adjustment to disability
  • Fear of injury
  • Fear of change
  • Clarification of functional limitations
  • Factors affecting motivation and benefits of working
  • Employer and employee expectations
  • CV and cover letter writing
  • Job interviews

How do I determine if my new workplace is safe?

An occupational therapist can observe you at work while performing specific job duties to determine if you can safely perform a job. They may then recommend modifying job duties or the work site to improve safety.

How can occupational therapy help with MS?

Occupational therapy at work generally provides assessment, help and recommendations in several areas, including:

  • Arm and hand therapy
  • Handwriting aids
  • Driver evaluation and vehicle modification information
  • Computer modifications
  • Workplace or work equipment modifications
  • Manual or electric wheelchair use

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 27, 2017

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