New Air of Confidence for The MS Therapy Centre

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Friday September 8 2017

Beth Anderson (Deputy Centre Manager - left) and Leigh-Ann Little (Centre Manager) launched the The Oxygen Works at Vue Cinema as part of a rebrand for the MS Therapy Centre. Photograph by John Paul Photography.

The Oxygen Works is for people living with a range of medical conditions, ranging from cancer and diabetes to Parkinson’s and even sport injuries.

A charity that has been improving the health of people with a range of conditions for 25 years is itself being given a new lease of life.

The MS Therapy Centre Inverness was set up in 1992 by a group of local people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and since then has been providing therapies to help members self-manage their symptoms.

The centre’s treatments – including oxygen therapy, physiotherapy and massage and reflexology – can help with other medical conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes.

The facility also provides emotional and social support for members, including a transportation service, to combat exclusion and isolation.

It is the only centre of its kind in the UK providing such a range of therapies and services to a diverse population of individuals and uses the only oxygen chamber in the central Highlands of Scotland.

As part of its silver anniversary celebrations, the centre in the city’s Burnett Road is being re-branded to highlight its wide-ranging services, which the charity aims to improve and expand in future.

From today (Friday, 8 September), it will be known as The Oxygen Works and will raise its profile to reach as many people in need of its services as possible.

A re-brand launch reception was held last night in the Vue Cinema in Inverness, when short films featuring staff and members were shown.

Leigh-Ann Little, the centre manager, said:

“The new name is logical - the oxygen works.

“We know that, we’ve been delivering care for 25 years.

“But it works on so many different levels for people with different conditions.

“That’s really important because it allow us to show the wider community they can access what we deliver.

“Through research, we know there are many more people living with MS and other health concerns who require the support of a centre like ours.

“In order to access and support these individuals it became evident that there were key challenges around visibility, accessibility and branding, that need to be addressed.

“It is important to consider the heritage and narrative of our centre, as well as recognising the centre’s evolving role within the community.

“We want to effectively reposition ourselves as a diverse, flexible and dynamic organisation that reflects the positive experience of members and attracts interest and involvement from many other quarters including partners, influencers, the public and private sectors.”

More than 500 centre members travel from across the Highlands and from as far afield as Aberdeen and the Outer Hebrides, to use the facilities.

Over its 25 years, staff have helped all ages, from an eight-month-old baby to a 99-year-old grandmother.

It costs £250,000 a year to run, with the vast bulk of income coming from users and donations.

Beth Anderson, the centre’s deputy manager, said:

“People are always surprised at how many clients we can help and all the different illnesses that can benefit from the therapies we offer at the centre.

“MS will always be at the core of what we do, but we can assist so many other people with other conditions because of the facilities we have and the services we provide.”

The centre’s benefits have been praised by both users and medical experts.

Sheena McLellan, from Ross-shire, who receives treatment for a spinal injury and Lyme disease, said:

“I consider the MS centre to be a therapy supermarket and I get to come along and choose the therapies I want.

“When I first started coming here, I was looking to access assistance for my physical wellbeing, but, over the course of attending here and listening to the experiences of others, I realised it’s just as important to have therapies or some interaction with other people that helps my emotional wellbeing too.”

Jimmy MacLennan, from Stornoway, who has MS, said:

“I owe the health I have to this centre and the people in it.

“I count myself very fortunate that today I think of myself as Mr MacLennan and not MS MacLennan and that means the world to me.

“If I didn’t have the support of the centre I know how different my life would be.”

Dr Louise Blackmore, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, added:

“The centre is a fantastic resource. 

“I am always encouraging people to go there.

“It is such a happy, positive place.

“It helps reduce isolation and that is essential.

“It provides a much-needed opportunity for people to meet others in a similar situation and to be able to share handy hints on how to get around their difficulties.

“It is also great for carers to meet each other.

“That includes children too.”

Oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressures, which can improve circulation and, therefore, recovery.

The delivery of increased oxygen to the body tissues greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria.

It also reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.

Oxygen therapy can be used as an effective treatment for a wide range of diseases and conditions including MS, myalgic encephalopathy (ME), fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, cancer, diabetes, Crohn's and colitis, Parkinson's, heart and respiratory conditions, skin problems, wound healing, eye conditions and sports injuries.

This year singer and musician Phil Collins successfully used oxygen therapy in Florida to treat an abscess on his foot that he’d developed from suffering with Type 2 Diabetes.



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