Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects the central nervous system.
The central nervous system acts like a telephone switchboard, sending electrical messages along the nerves to various parts of the body. These messages control all our everyday movements and processes. The nerve fibres in the central system are wrapped in a protective sheath of fatty material called myelin which, like plastic around electric cable, insulates the nerves and helps the smooth flow of messages to different parts of the body.
In people who have MS, the myelin breaks down and is replaced by scar tissue. This results in the messages being distorted, completely blocked or being sent to the wrong area.
The symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:
- vertigo (dizziness)
- eye trouble such as double vision
- speech difficulties, including slurring of words
- spasticity and/or weakness in the arms or legs
- loss of coordination
- numbness or "pins and needles"
- staggering, loss of balance or dragging of the feet
- extreme tiredness
- memory lapses
These symptoms are unpredictable and the well being of someone with MS will vary from day to day. With proper management, the effects of MS may be minimised and in most cases people affected by MS can still lead independent, active, satisfying lives.
MS affects more women than men, with symptoms generally appearing between the ages of 20 and 50 and in people living in temperate
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects the central nervous
What causes MS
There are many theories, but the cause is still unknown. However, we do know that it is not hereditary.
I M P L I C AT I O N S F O R D A I LY L I V I N G
People with MS:
- may not be as mobile as other people and therefore they may become isolated from community resources and people
- may be afraid of how others may respond to them
- may experience chronic fatigue
- may exhibit/have symptoms which result in them being unable to fulfil their leisure or work activities
- may be financially less secure than previously if they have to stop work
- may be less mobile due to walking difficulties
- may be unable to independently care for themselves or carry out routine daily living activities
- may have double vision and sight impairments
- may have swallowing difficulties
- may react adversely to extreme heat
W A Y S O F A S S I S T I N G
To assist a person with MS:
- treat the person as you would want to be treated
- negotiate the level of assistance by asking the person how much help they require.
- Don't assume what they can and cannot do.
- encourage the person to be as independent as possible
If the person is having difficulty communicating, be patient with them, listen and try to understand them. If you do not understand them ask them to repeat what they have said and try visual and non-verbal ways rather than pretending you understand.