When MCP user Ann Abrams joined the BIPAMS study held by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in April 20016, she had no idea what to expect. The goal of the study was to help people with multiple sclerosis become more physically active in everyday life, and at the start of the study, Ann was walking about 30 steps a day.

Ann embarked on a search for affordable physical therapy options and luckily she stumbled upon this study. One which cared less about the yoga/pilates regime of the participants and more about the number of steps they walked per day.

The study gave each participant a pedometer to track their steps. Rachel, Ann’s advisor, told her that 10,0000 steps a day was the suggested goal for participants.

Ann started with 30 steps in April, and by the next September, she was walking 1,000 steps a day. Ann explains,

“I went from 30 steps to 1,000. I quickly discovered that to achieve steps, I would need to leave my cube. I started walking the halls. And then, with my rollator, I went outside the Tower and solo stepped my way to the corner, and then around the block. I must appear like a mess [because] people of all walks ask if I need assistance. The homeless man on the corner held the door at Walmart for me, I had several offers asking if I need to use their phone, and young missionaries asking to pray for me. I now have 15 completed orbits around my block.”

When the study first started, and the first 1,000 steps were reached, Ann experienced soreness and exhaustion. But as she continued, Ann was able to walk more steps without having to take as many days off.

She is currently at a consistent 1,500 steps and is hopeful she will reach 8,500 steps, which is the guideline goal of “active” adults. She is  weaning herself off of using a walker, but the cane remains a helpful support for her as she trains.

The final word on the BIPAMS study:

“It is my current challenge not to reach for the wall with my left hand. I’m now getting out and about with more confidence and ease.”

We are proud of you, Ann. Walk on!