Putting your best foot forward

Putting your best foot forward on World MS Day

On World MS Day we’d like to take a look at what podiatrist Selina Ng refers to as “the neglected side of those with MS.” The feet!

“We all tend to take our feet for granted – until there’s something wrong with them,” says Selina, who is based at Uniting AgeWell’s Forest Hill AgeWell Centre and helps older people, including those with MS, put their best foot forward.

Multiple Sclerosis is where the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the nerves, resulting in nerve damage which disrupts communication between the brain and the body. It affects more than 25,000 people in Australia and the cause is unknown.

Selina says people with MS often don’t have the strength or dexterity in their hands to cut their toe nails and take good care of their feet. “They tend to have balance problems, and are far more likely to be able to use a walker or a crutch and far less likely to fall if their feet are in good condition,” she explains.

Selina also checks the condition of their feet, their skin, whether there are any pressure points and more. “They are also liable to get infection because of problems with their immune system,” Selina says.

“Sometimes clients are unable to feel their feet as the MS worsens, so it’s difficult for them to even know what condition their feet are in!”

And she says being as mobile as possible affects everything –fitness, mood and quality of life. A big part of living with MS is trying to maintain independence at home – and being mobile contributes hugely to this.

It’s not just those with MS who have problems. Selina says some older people struggle to take care of their feet through a range of issues including being unable to bend to reach them, vertigo or bariatric issues. Diabetes can also cause problems, with poor circulation and sensation.

“I’m passionate about feet,” explains Selina. “And it’s wonderful when clients tell me ‘I didn’t know my feet could feel so much better.”

Selina, who did a Bachelor of Health Science and a Masters of Podiatric Practice, says she cannot stress the importance of keeping on moving. “Foot care is so important, we’re on our feet each and every day.”

Clare Irvine, Uniting AgeWell operations manager for the allied health team, says AgeWell Centres provides a range of services including physiotherapy and exercise physiology for improving physical strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness, occupational therapists to prescribe aids and equipment, speech therapists, podiatry and more.

"People with MS need the whole-of-team approach," Clare says. "And we can certainly provide that."

To find out more about the range of allied health and therapy programs available through Uniting AgeWell’s centres or through in-home visits, go to

Learn more about our Allied Health and Therapy Programs