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Family Guide to Multiple Sclerosis

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Family Guide to Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition. It is thought that this long lasting disease affects more than 100,000 people living in the UK. Most cases of Multiple Sclerosis are diagnosed when the person is between the ages of 20-40, however it can affect younger and older people too.

This condition is much more common in women and it has been found that roughly three times as many women have MS than men. There are three main types of MS; Relapsing remitting MS, which is where people have distinct attacks but the symptoms then fade. Secondary progressive MS where there is a sustained build-up of disability and lastly, Primary progressive MS which affect a smaller amount of people and their symptoms gradually get worse rather than sudden attacks. What we have to remember is that people who may have the same type of Multiple Sclerosis may not suffer from or experience the same symptoms or in the same way.

It is not known for sure what exactly causes Multiple Sclerosis; it is thought to be down to genetic and environmental factors. On the genetic side it has been found that each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is protected by a layer of protein called myelin, which protects the nerve and helps signals and messages from the brain travel to the rest of the body. In someone who is suffering from MS, the myelin becomes damaged therefore the nerve signals are disturbed, making it difficult for the brain to send these messages, causing an increase in disability.
Multiple Sclerosis symptoms include a variety of physical conditions. In the early signs of Multiple Sclerosis it is rather common for somebody's vision to be an issue. Other symptoms such as balance and dizziness problems, fatigue, bladder issues and stiffness or spasms may occur. Some individuals may also have problems with swallowing, tremors and speech. Some people are mildly affected by cognitive problems which include memory and thinking but there are many tips and strategies to cope with these. Most people will not experience all of the symptoms listed above however it may be a good idea to get information from GPs or healthcare team, they will decide whether or not the symptoms that an individual has will need further investigation.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is rather difficult to diagnose. Due to early signs and symptoms being different for every single person, it can be extremely hard to say when MS began and can take up to several months or even longer for a diagnosis from a neurologist. Once a specialist has diagnosed the person's health, health team members will give reliable and educational information regarding treatment and the next steps. As of yet there is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis but there is significant ongoing research and charities to help.

Treatments can relieve stress, symptoms and the amount of relapses a person has and there are lots of different types of treatment. This can include diet, exercise and lifestyle, drug treatments, symptom management and alternative therapies. Eating a nutritional balanced diet helps the human body work to its full potential and exercising regularly will help individuals with more severe MS to stay mobile and fit. Drug treatments such as disease modifying drugs can help to reduce the amount of times a person relapses; the drugs do not cure the condition but will ultimately help, they are only prescribed to patients with relapsing remitting MS or secondary progressive. It may be very valuable for an occupational therapist to help with new ways to do certain tasks to make everyday activities easy and stay enjoyable.

It is bound to be a very frustrating and stressful time for someone who has recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, support if very necessary for a person to get through this stressful time. Family members, friends and their health care team can all be great support to the individual. However self-care will help with their own health, stress levels and wellbeing. This includes, eating well, staying fits, preventing illnesses and making sure they maintain a good physical and mental health. The individual will benefit immensely if they receive support for their self-care. The impacts are living longer, less physical pain, less stress, anxiety and depression.

Practical Aids

Multiple Sclerosis can affect a great part of the individual's life and daily routine. Below are some specifically designed products to ease symptoms and help with the person's independence and self-esteem.

Bathing Aids

Balance, dizziness, stiffness of muscles and fatigue can all be extremely tiring. There are several bathing aids that will be very beneficial to a sufferer of MS. These products include, bath grab rails, shower seats, extra-long handled sponge and bath safety aids.

Dressing Aids

Simple everyday tasks that are seen to be very easy, may be a hard task for someone with MS. Aids such as button hooks and zip pullers, sock pulls, long-handled shoehorn, and Velcro belts, will all be exceptionally useful.

Eating Aids

Specialised cutlery, plate surrounds and guards and electrical can openers are just a few of the products that can help at meals to

Mobility Aids

A walking stick may be a useful item when the person has mild to significant problems with balance and a quad cane provide more stability. Walkers and wheelchairs may be very beneficial when there is major leg weakness. These mobility aids provide independence and help with self-esteem.


Walking, sitting or balance can be an issue for someone with Multiple Sclerosis, there are many products to help with everyday living these include the portable commodes, toilet support rails, and toilet lifts.

Useful products for Multiple Sclerosis

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