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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Learn what Stu's Views and MS News / MS Views and News is doing Globally

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'MS Views and News' helps those affected Multiple Sclerosis by providing information, education and resources via live seminars and via the internet.

Enter a place where information and knowledge is provided for anybody affected by Multiple Sclerosis. This includes the patients, caregivers, medical providers and anybody with interest in MS information.

Whether an MS patient, a caregiver or a medical professional:  
If you are not yet receiving the weekly MS e-Newsletter, "Stu's Views and MS News", or having access to our website and MS blog, then consider registering after reading the information found below:

On our website's homepage (, you will find a link to register for our website and weekly publication of "Stu's Views and MS News", an MS e-Newsletter, which is being received by e-recipients around the globe in (90) Countries. Once registered at our website, you will begin receiving this weekly Newsletter.

A Must see is our MS BLOG (, where you will find easy-to-read MS articles. From this blog you will have access to many other MS informational resources and organizations as well as other MS bloggers.  Find the category listings and other links found on the right side column of this blog to help you to better understand Multiple Sclerosis.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

EL-E The Laser-Guided Robot

A State-of-the-art Gopher that may benefit MS patients who must rely on others for basic needs. 

To watch this video

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How MS Disability Is Measured

WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed By Neil Lava, MD

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease. Multiple sclerosis progression varies from person to person. And, the various MS types of disease progress in different ways, too. Scans and other multiple sclerosis tests don't always tell the whole story about MS disability. Signs and symptoms and how well you are functioning each day -- from seeing to moving to thinking -- are also important measures of how well your central nervous system is working.

That's why a variety of tools are useful in assessing multiple sclerosis disability. These help you and your doctor gauge whether your MS is improving, progressing, or staying about the same. Doctors also use these measures in clinical studies. This helps to see how well multiple sclerosis treatment is working.

A trained examiner, often a neurologist, administers tests that help create scales like the ones below. These can provide a kind of snapshot of your MS progression.

MS Progression: Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS)

This commonly used scale is sometimes called the Kurtzke scale, named for the neurologist who developed it. The EDSS focuses mainly on your ability to walk. It is a less sensitive measure of other types of multiple sclerosis disability. It takes about 30 minutes to create a score. Then a few minutes are needed to establish the ratings in the EDSS scale.

Functional System Score (FSS)

On a scale of 0 to 6, FSS measures how well your major central nervous systems are working and assigns a score to your disability. This incorporates information about your gait and use of assistive devices. It also involves observation of functions like these:

Weakness or trouble moving limbs
Tremor or loss of coordination
Problems with speech, swallowing, or involuntary eye movements
Numbness or loss of sensation
Bowel and bladder function
Visual function
Mental functions  
The EDSS Scale

With the help of the FSS, the examiner rates your disability on the EDSS scale. It ranges from 0 to 10, with half points for greater specificity. Lower numbers indicate less severe disability. Higher numbers reflect a greater degree of disability, mostly in relation to mobility:

0 = Normal
1-1.5 = No disability, but some abnormal neurological signs
2–2.5 = Minimal disability
3–4.5 = Moderate disability, affecting daily activities, but you can still walk
5–8 = More severe disability, impairing your daily activities and requiring assistance with walking
8.5–9.5 = Very severe disability, restricting you to bed
10 = Death
It's important to recognize that a one-point change at the lower end of the scale reflects more subtle changes than at the upper end of the scale. For example, a one-point change between 2 and 3 is not as great a progression of disability as between 8 and 9.

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Side Effects of MS Treatments

When you're first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), so many different thoughts and worries can race through your mind. How will it affect my life? Will I be able to work? Will I lose my ability to walk?
Having MS today is a lot different than it was a few decades ago. Medications like interferon beta, glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), and natalizumab (Tysabri) have literally changed the course of this disease -- for the better.
MS drugs are very effective, but they're not perfect. All of them can have side effects. Most side effects are minor, but a few -- though rare -- can be more serious.

Common Side Effects of MS Drugs

The drugs that are usually prescribed first for MS -- which include the interferons (Betaseron, Avonex, Rebif, Extavia) and Copaxone -- are considered to be very safe.
"Literally with the interferons, hundreds of thousands of patients around the world have taken these drugs successfully," says Aaron Miller, MD, medical director of the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis and professor of Neurology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Miller consults for, and has received research support from several pharmaceutical companies that make MS drugs, including Biogen Idec, Teva, and Novartis.
Most side effects of the interferons and Copaxone are very mild. "In general, their side effects can be bothersome but aren't necessarily dangerous," says John Ratchford, MD, MSc, assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Ratchford also receives research support from several pharmaceutical companies.
With Copaxone and the interferon medications, the most common side effects are redness, warmth, or itching at the injection site, which usually fade over time. Some people notice a dimpling of the skin with repeated needle sticks. Injecting in different spots and placing a warm compress over the area before you do the injection are ways to help minimize these side effects.
Click here to continue reading from WebMD

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Treating Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

Source: WebMD
By Peter Jaret
Reviewed By Neil Lava, MD

Living with multiple sclerosis means living with uncertainty. The course of the disease is very difficult for doctors to predict. Some people live with MS for years without suffering serious symptoms. Others may rapidly become disabled. Why the course of the disease varies so widely remains unclear. One thing is certain. Most people with MS experience periodic relapses, also called flare-ups or attacks. These can be mild or severe. They may show up in many different ways. Symptoms can include:

  • ØMuscle weakness
  • ØVisual disturbances
  • ØBalance problems
  • ØMemory loss
  • ØLoss of bowel or bladder control

“Between 85% and 95% of MS patients begin with what we call remitting/relapsing MS,” says Anne Cross, MD, professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. During that phase of the disease, the pattern of relapses varies widely among patients. Some people have frequent relapses. Others have very few. The average is typically one to two attacks a year, according to Cross. 

Doctors can help MS patients live as active and normal a life as possible by treating acute relapses as soon as they occur. Yet there are instances when doctors may recommend not treating a relapse.

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The Progression of Multiple Sclerosis

How Does the Disease Progress?

The course of multiple sclerosis varies for each person. Because of this uncertainty, doctors often tell their patients that they "probably" or "possibly" have MS. Your diagnosis is based on the combination of problems, patterns of recurrence, which systems are impaired, and your test results. There is no way to predict how each person's condition will progress. It often takes years before a doctor can be certain of an MS diagnosis and have some idea on how the disease will progress.
There are four courses that MS takes:
  • Relapsing-remitting MS: characterized by unpredictable acute attacks, called "exacerbations," with worsening of symptoms followed by full, partial, or no recovery of some function. These attacks appear to evolve over several days to weeks. Recovery from an attack takes weeks sometimes months. The disease does not worsen in the periods between the attacks. This pattern usually occurs early in the course of MS in most people.
  • Primary-progressive MS: characterized by a gradual but steady progression of disability, without any obvious relapses and remissions. This form of disease occurs in just 15% of all people with MS, but it is the most common type of MS in people who develop the disease after the age of 40.
  • Secondary-progressive MS: initially begins with a relapsing-remitting course, but later evolves into progressive disease. The progressive part of the disease may begin shortly after the onset of MS, or it may occur years or decades later.
  • Progressive-relapsing MS: This is the least common form of the disease and is characterized by a steady progression in disability with acute attacks that may or may not be followed by some recovery. People with progressive relapsing MS initially appear to have primary progressive MS.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, but the unpredictable physical and emotional effects of the disease continue throughout the person's life.

What Is a True Exacerbation (Relapse) of Multiple Sclerosis?

A true exacerbation of multiple sclerosis is caused by an area of inflammation (swelling) in the nerves of the brain and spinal cord system followed by something called demyelination, which is the destruction of myelin. The myelin is the fatty sheath that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers.
Demyelination results in the formation of an abnormal area called a plaque within the brain and/or spinal cord. A plaque causes the nerve impulses to be slowed, distorted, or halted, producing the symptoms of MS. One example of an exacerbation of MS would be the development of optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve (which is in the back of the eye) that impairs vision.
An exacerbation of MS may be mild and not cause a noticeable impairment in functioning or may significantly interfere with a person's daily life. Exacerbations usually last from several days to several weeks, although they may extend into months.
Exacerbations or relapses of MS are often treated with medications called corticosteroids. These drugs reduce inflammation. It is generally accepted that taking corticosteroids for a short amount of time will shorten an exacerbation and/or reduce the severity.

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