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ABC6: Living With Multiple Sclerosis

Many neurological disorders impact a patient's life much later in that life cycle.  Multiple Sclerosis, in many cases, does not follow that pattern.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The specific antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be "immune-mediated" rather than "autoimmune."

  • Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
  • The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
  • When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
  • The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
  • People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses which can be mild, moderate or severe.

OhioHealth Neuroimmunologist Aaron Boster, MD, says the majority of patients with MS start with symptoms in their 20's, 30's, and 40's.

"Multiple sclerosis is is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the holiest of holies: the brain and the superhighway, the spinal cord that takes all that information up and down," Dr. Boster told ABC6 reporter Tara Morgan.

The body can remain under attack, and to a higher degree if treatment, and medications aren't started, thus impacting a quality of life much earlier than some diseases.

"The natural history of MS neurological disability that accrues over the years often times culminating in cane, walker, wheelchair," said Dr. Boster to ABC6.

Some patients complain of leg numbness, balance issues, or problems seeing. If the patient, or family is very much involved from the start, the team approach to fighting MS can start, and continue as the patient grows older.

"If we see certain patterns on the MRI we can diagnose you before your second attack," Dr. Boster told ABC6. "In the modern era with treatment are expectation is a normal life expectancy and, if we play our cards right, a normal life quality," he added.

To see the story, and read the article by ABC6, just click the logo.