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Department of Neurology
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VIDEO: Swim for MS - Why I Swim - Mary, Harleysville, PA

Once her Multiple Sclerosis (MS) became too much to handle in addition to working full-time, Harleysville resident Mary Sypawka’s job became taking care of herself full-time.
In addition to sleeping more, eating well and keeping up with doctors visits, Sypawka began to exercise. In particular, she started to swim, beginning with walking for awhile in the water.
“It was amazing,” Sypawka said. “I was so thrilled that it gave my body the feelings it had pre-MS.”
A little more than 20 years ago, Sypawka was diagnosed with MS, when she was engaged to be married to her husband Steve.
“I had all kinds of symptoms — it was horrible and doctors couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong,” Sypawka said. “It was terrifying once I was diagnosed because I didn’t know what the future would hold.”
Sypawka was diagnosed with relapse remitting MS in 1993, with her primary symptoms including vision, walking and balance issues.
About 12 years ago, while Sypawka was still working she got in the pool for the first time, beginning simply with water walking.
“When I am in the water, it is such a great feeling to do simple things like walking a straight line or standing on one foot,” Sypawka said. “Things that are unthinkable on land.”
Then, as she got stronger, she suggested the Indian Valley YMCA, where she swam, add a water aerobics class specifically for those living with MS.
The water aerobics class focuses on balance, strength through endurance and takes into account the fatigue those living with MS feel.
Sypawka attendes the MS water aerobics class twice a week and on other days does her own routine in the water based off of previous classes and online resources. Sometimes she even takes a regular water aerobics class, which she proudly says she “grauated into” after numerous years of water excercies.
Sypawka also helped to make the pool more accessible with the installment of a chair lift for people living with MS.
These accomplishments, along with her personal story, prompted Sypawka to apply for a role as National Ambassador for the benefits of swimming for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), through a collaborative partnership with Genzyme,
She was selected because of her “inspiring story” to help launch a national education program designed to highlight the benefits of swimming and other water-based activities for those living with chronic illnesses like MS.
Housed at are all the benefits spelled out, varying exercises to practice and other resources to help make aquatic exercises more accessible for those living with MS.
Today, Sypawka is thankful for the benefits swimming has given her and how it helps her manage her symptoms.
“Twenty years since my diagnosis, I am thrilled with how mobile I am,” Sypawka said. “I believe that the water has kept me moving, in spite of my MS. It has made me stronger, in body and spirit.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by YOUTUBE
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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