Tyler woman with multiple sclerosis turns to exercise, benefits life-changing

Fit City

TYLER (KYTX) - Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable auto-immune disease that can rob people of their independence.  It can affect their speech, vision, and ability to walk, among many other problems.  In this week's Fit City, meet a Tyler woman, who turned to exercise to get her life back.

It's been 8 years since Amanda Turner's life was turned upside down.  What she thought was sciatica turned out to be multiple sclerosis, a disease she'd never heard of until she was finally diagnosed in 2009.

"I was at work one day and they thought I had a stroke. I had no feelings in my leg and hands and tingling in my face and that's when they did a scan on my brain, that's when they found I had MS," says Amanda Turner.

Amanda Turner was shocked. The days after her multiple sclerosis diagnosis didn't get any easier.

"Things just went downhill from there and they just got worse and worse and worse.  I was in a wheel chair for about 2 years," says Amanda.

Then, in October of last year Amanda decided to see what exercise could do to control her MS symptoms and the flare-ups that often come with the disease.

"I have always liked to exercise, but I haven't always been able to and I just woke up one day and said I was tired of doing what I was doing and wanted to be able to change it," says Amanda.

Amanda started training with Emily Dumelle at Premier Fitness in Tyler.  "First we just sat down and talked and I just got her story and then I did my research," says Emily.  "She just noticed my walking. My right side is my worst side and my leg was flaring out the right, going outward," says Amanda.

Emily started slow with Amanda.  "We started seated, so we could get everything in line seated before we looked at what she was doing standing," says Emily.  Then Emily took Amanda to the ballet bar to straighten out her step.

"Amanda, she is a hard worker. I give her an inch and she takes a mile. She likes to walk on the treadmill," says Emily.  "In order to go faster.  She was walking with the cane on the treadmill so she was walking with the incorrect movement pattern," says Emily.

Emily's goal was to get Amanda off the treadmill.  So, she started giving Amanda simple interval exercises.  "Like bringing my elbow to my knee on the side, I would have never thought I could have brought my elbow up and my knee to the same side because I didn't have balance enough to do that," says Amanda.

Amanda does these types of exercises 20 to 30 seconds at a time to get her heart rate up and correct her incorrect movement patterns brought on by MS.  "I couldn't stand there by myself without holding onto my cane. That's how bad my balance was, but I can stand there today and take a step without my cane and that's huge," says Amanda.

Emily started documenting Amanda's journey.  "She said you better start taking videos because I am going to ditch this cane soon," says Emily.

By Christmas, Amanda was off the cane and making major strides towards her goal of walking in the 3-mile MS Walk in Chicago this May.  "And to be able to walk a mile outside without my cane. That's huge. That's amazing!"

What these personal training sessions have given Amanda is freedom.  Freedom to walk without a cane. She says she's no speed demon and can't run, but she has hope that one day she will.

Amanda also takes multiple sclerosis medications. She is hopeful that, combined with her daily exercise will reduce her flare-ups.  Her last one was nearly a year ago.

Amanda says the stronger she gets physically, the stronger she gets emotionally and spiritually.  Her trainer believes in her so much she set up a site where people can donate to her MS Walk. You can find that information, just click here.



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