1.) What is Multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS). It is considered to be a chronic and often times disabling disease. The CNS includes the brain, spinal cords and optic nerves. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary and can include numbness in the limbs, or it may become more severe and develop into paralysis or loss of vision. The severity and progress of this disease are unpredictable and will vary actually from person to person.
2.) MS, an Autoimmune Disease
What does this mean? – An autoimmune disease is when the body's own defenses attack the nervous system. In other words, the body's defenses will attack the myelin, which are the fatty substances that surround and protect nerve fibers of the CNS. When these nerve fibers get damaged, the myelin then forms scar tissue (otherwise known as sclerosis). As a result of damaged or destroyed nerve fibers, nerve impulses that travel to and from the brain and spinal cord can be disturbed. Meaning that transmission of these impulses can be interrupted; This can produce a variety of symptoms.
3.) The Cause of Multiple Sclerosis
While the exact cause of this disease is not known, scientists currently believe that there are a combination of several factors that lead to MS. These factors include:
Ms is known to occur more often in areas of the world that are farther from the equator. Studies have shown that when a person is born in an area with a high risk and then move to an area of lower risk, before the age of 15, the person can acquire the risk of the new area. – Some researchers attribute this to the amount of vitamin D that a person will receive, as a result of living in each area, due to sunlight.
While multiple sclerosis is not hereditary, it has been shown that individuals with a first-degree relative, parent or sibling with MS, does increase the risk of developing the disease.
4.) Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Balance and weakness problems can develop when a person suffers from MS. This can affect the way a person walks or moves and as a result, this can decrease individual's quality of life. Some methods of treatment can help individuals that have these walking problems.
Walking Problems and Multiple Sclerosis – Treatment Options
When an individual has walking problems that develop from MS, they can benefit from working with their local licensed orthotist. These individuals are brace specialists and can provide you with a specific type of brace called an AFO that will assist in balance, gait stride and walking speed. People are now also using a device called the WalkAide to help with foot drop due to MS as well. This is an FDA approved device that is getting a lot of attention in the medical field as a way to help people walk if they have drop foot due to multiple sclerosis.