Understanding and living with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects your brain and spinal cord and causes a range of symptoms. Although a lifelong condition, the right support, treatment and mobility aids can help you to manage symptoms and live an active and healthy life.
What is multiple sclerosis?
MS, although with no clear cause, is a neurological condition that can often arise due to genetic factors and affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. Essentially caused by myelin, the protein layer which protects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, becoming damaged, MS occurs when the myelin cannot help signals and messages travel from the brain to the rest of the body.
Types of multiple sclerosis
MS can affect people of all ages, but it has been found to be more common in women than men. There are three main types of MS;
Relapsing-remitting MS, which is when distinct attacks occur but the symptoms then fade
Secondary progressive MS where there is a sustained build-up of disability
Primary progressive MS which affects a smaller amount of people with symptoms gradually worsening rather than sudden attacks
Living with and treating multiple sclerosis
MS can cause a variety of physical symptoms, ranging from fatigue and dizziness to memory problems and loss of mobility. While the symptoms can differ from person to person, it’s important to get advice from your GP to discuss any symptoms which may need investigating further.
Some lifestyle changes can help with symptoms such as:
Self-care - people with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from being supported to care for themselves helping to maintain independence, staying fit and active and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Regular reviews and check-ups - The NHS recommends a comprehensive review of your care and treatment of MS at least once a year as it helps yourself and your care team to recognise any problems you may have, discuss your current treatment and any support you may need.
Stopping smoking - The NHS advise to stop smoking if you have MS as it may help to slow the progression of the condition.
As the symptoms of MS can vary, the range of any mobility aids required is much wider. For individuals who struggle with balance and dizziness, grab rails are an essential item to help provide stability and reassurance when climbing into a bath or going up and down stairs. Additionally, if the individual is unable to walk unaided, a mobility aid such as a rollator is perfect for providing support when walking as some even have a seat ideal for resting.
More information and support:
If you have been diagnosed with MS or care for someone with MS, there are many support organisations and charities which offer advice and help:
MS Society: https://www.mssociety.org.uk
MS Research Charity: http://ms-research.org.uk