MS Awareness Week: Supporting People Living with MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease, a condition where the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, which in this case is the brain and spinal cord. It is the most common cause of disability in younger adults, with diagnoses as early as their twenties. The impact on a person’s life is determined by the severity and is likely to worsen over time. Raising awareness will help to reduce the stigma, allowing people living with the disease to receive the support they need.


The symptoms may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vision Impairments
  • Problems controlling the bladder.
  • Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body.
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Problems with thinking, learning, and planning.


Particularly in the earlier stages of MS, many will suffer seemingly “invisible” symptoms which may affect their quality of life. Encouraging open communication as healthcare professionals, by proactively checking on these symptoms is important; some may not even realise their symptoms are part of their condition! It is also beneficial to have shared decision-making, as the illness varies for each individual and doing so will give them a sense of control.


As many diagnosed are young adults, maintaining their independence as much as possible is a priority. Considering an environment’s accessibility can help with this. Something as simple as ample parking and ramps can make a significant difference. Large text, contrast between colours in signage as well as audio landmarks can help with visual impairments. How could this be adapted to technology? Making these changes not only creates more accessible spaces for those with MS but also for people with a variety of other disabilities.


Many research studies include discussions of fear and anxiety around the illness itself. The most common being the worsening of symptoms and the loss of independence. Although this is understandable, in some cases this fear inhibits patients from doing things which would be beneficial for their health such as exercise. Exercise and being physically active can create a healthy immune response which can ease symptoms. A decrease in mobility and other worsened symptoms over time can make being physically active challenging but not impossible. In this study, they propose exercises which can be tailored to different needs. Consider safety by adapting the environment to avoid injury, particularly in cases where balance is affected.


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