MS Research: Full Speed Ahead

Reprinted from PN December 2002

Scientists are beginning to find answers to questions about this unpredictable disease.

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that affects more than 333,000 people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. A new case is diagnosed every hour. This disease can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, paralysis, and blindness. These problems might be permanentor they may come and go.

Types of MS include the following:

Relapsing-Remitting Most common form at initial diagnosis; approximately 80% at onset. People with this type experience clearly defined flareups (relapses) or episodes of acute worsening of neurologic function. These are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions) between attacks that are free of disease progression.

Primary-Progressive Relatively rare; approximately 10% at onset. Individuals with this type experience a nearly continuous worsening of the disease from onset, with no distinct relapses or remissions. However, rate of progression varies over time, and occasional plateaus and temporary minor improvements occur.

Secondary-Progressive Fifty percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS develop this form of the disease within ten years of initial diagnosis. An initial period of relapsing-remitting MS precedes a steadily worsening course with or without occasional flareups, minor remissions, or plateaus.

Progressive-Relapsing Relatively rare; approximately 10% at onset. People with this type experience a steady worsening from the onset but also have clear acute flareups with or without recovery. In contrast to relapsing-remitting MS, the periods between relapses are characterized by continuing disease progression.

In the December 2002 PN/Paraplegia News, learn who gets MS and what typical symptoms are and what causes them. There's also an update on the rapid progress made during the past year in many of the scientific and medical research fields that impact understanding MS.


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MS Research: Full Speed Ahead


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