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March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system and disrupts communication between the brain and various parts of the body.

According to a recent study conducted by the National MS Society, around one million Americans are living with this unpredictable disease and another 1.5 million people have been diagnosed with MS outside of the US.

Brief History of National MS Awareness Month

National MS Education and Awareness Month was started by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in 2003. Their goal is to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis while helping those diagnosed with the disease to make well informed healthcare decisions in order to best cope with its symptoms.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is usually caused by damage to the central nervous system; this includes nerves and their surrounding layer known as myelin, and neurons within the brain and spinal cord.

Potential Risk Factors

  • Family history
  • Lack of sunlight and/or vitamin D exposure
  • Smoking
  • Autoimmune system dysfunction
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month ribbon

Multiple Sclerosis Onset & Symptoms

Diagnosing MS

Unfortunately, no single test has been created to diagnose MS; doctors need to run multiple tests in order to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms. Properly diagnosing MS requires a complete medical history, physical and neurological examinations, and an MRI scan of the head and spine. The initial symptoms of MS are usually experienced in men and women between the ages of 20 and 40-years-old.

Potential Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Color distortion
  • Partial blindness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Issues with walking and overall balance
  • Fatigue
  • Various forms of pain
  • Bladder control problems
  • Constipation
  • Depression

“Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss. Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked.”

-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Treating Multiple Sclerosis

At this point in time there is no cure for MS. Certain forms of steroids have been prescribed in attempt to treat acute symptoms; however, these drugs have not been proven to affect the disease’s overall prognosis. A symptom of MS known as spasticity, a condition that causes muscles to be continuously contracted, has sometimes been treated using prescription muscle relaxants and tranquilizers.

When professionally administered by a licensed occupational therapist, one of the most effective approaches to managing MS and its associated symptoms is a combination of physical therapy and exercise.

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness nurse with resident

Multiple Sclerosis Care at San Simeon

The team at San Simeon by the Sound takes a holistic approach to caring for residents with MS. As a patient-centered care facility, our staff focuses on promoting health, wellbeing, and overall conditioning in order to reduce fatigue and maximize function. We have licensed occupational, physical, and cognitive therapists who create and oversee personalized treatment plans for each resident. This unique approach to caring for those with MS helps to provide our residents with the quality of life they deserve.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our Multiple Sclerosis care program or would like to schedule a visit to see all San Simeon has to offer.

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