It was just over 20 years ago, and multiplatinum country music star Clay Walker was riding high, on tour with his band, when he experienced a set of symptoms—poor balance, double vision, and what he calls "lazy legs"—that seemed almost funny at first; just some weird, passing thing. On the morning of the last show of his tour, Walker woke up expecting the joke to be over, the symptoms gone. They weren't.
"That was a scary moment," Walker said. "But that was when I knew that I should probably get to a doctor."
It didn't take long for Walker to learn that he had multiple sclerosis (MS). His first two doctors told him that would be in a wheelchair in 4 years, and likely dead in eight. But here it is, two decades later, and Walker is still on his feet, still touring, and still living life to the fullest—thanks, he says, to his faith, an excellent physician, appropriate medications, and a mobility "protocol" he learned from his physical therapist.
Now on Move Forward Radio: Clay Walker describes living a full life with MS—from how the disease helped him deepen his faith to the physical therapy "game plan" he has developed to help him maintain mobility every day.
Walker tells Move Forward Radio that his disease has not progressed significantly since the initial diagnosis, but he is quick to point out that what he's done to fight MS should not be taken as the only way to approach a disease that can affect individuals differently. The key, he says, is for those with MS to "take control of what they can and manage what they can."
Physical therapy is one of Walker's biggest ways of taking control, thanks to a set of exercises he learned from his PT.
"Every morning I wake up and my right leg feels like a 2x4, and I can bust that spasticity in minutes," Walker said. "For me being able to counter that, I just never knew it was possible." He calls it his "protocol" and says that he "couldn't imagine living life without it."
In addition to continuing his music career, Walker founded the Band Against MS foundation, a charitable group devoted to helping people with MS live life to the fullest.
"MS has been a life changer for me in a positive way," Walker said. “I feel like MS really helped me find out who I'm supposed to be, and the life I'm supposed to lead. I never looked at it as a curse. I feel 100% blessed."
APTA members are encouraged to alert their patients to the radio series and other MoveForwardPT.com resources to help educate the public about the benefits of treatment by a physical therapist. Ideas for future episodes and other feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.