Multiple Sclerosis and MS Treatment
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disorder that affects the spinal cord and brain. Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that cover the nerves. The result is that there are communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. In progressive cases of multiple sclerosis, the electrical impulses of nerves are slowed and the nerves become damaged over time.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis typically involves multiple sclerosis rehabilitation and other treatments. There are at least four different types of multiple sclerosis: Relapsing-Remitting (RR) MS, Primary-Progressive (PP) MS, and Secondary-Progressive (SP) MS, and Progressive-Relapsing MS. Whichever treatment that multiple sclerosis rehabilitation clinics will use on patients varies depending on the type of multiple sclerosis and the unique symptoms that each patient presents.
Multiple Sclerosis Causes
The cause of multiple sclerosis is still not known. Scientists think that the disease may be caused by a combination of genetics along with the type of environment that the person was exposed to early on in life. The disease is three times more common in females than it is in males. The symptoms and type of multiple sclerosis varies greatly and depends on the location of the scar tissue formation in the brain as well as the extent of the myelin loss.
Certain groups such as European gypsies, Eskimos, and African Bantu do not develop multiple sclerosis, and the incidence in the general population is less than one percent. Some studies show that Caucasians of Northern European origin are twice as likely to get multiple sclerosis as African Americans. Those between their teenage years and the age of 50 have the highest risk of developing the illness, and the risk declines gradually after 50. Also, the type and extent of MS symptoms has shown to be variable between different ethnic groups.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
The primary symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary between individuals. The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include visual disturbances, muscle weakness, difficulties with balance and coordination, sensations such as numbness or “pins and needles,” and problems with cognition. Symptoms also depend on the type of multiple sclerosis. In 50 percent of MS patients there are symptoms such as decreased concentration, memory loss, attention deficits, inability to perform sequential tasks, and impairment in judgment. Primary symptoms can be treated with multiple sclerosis rehabilitation. Other symptoms may include manic depression, paranoia, and an uncontrolled ability to laugh or weep. As the diseases progresses, patients can experience reduced bladder or bowel function and sexual dysfunction.
There are also a number of secondary symptoms of MS. Secondary symptoms can also successfully be treated with multiple sclerosis rehabilitation. Bladder dysfunction can lead to urinary tract infections. Patients may become inactive due to weakness that results from muscle atrophy, poor trunk control, and poor posture. MS patients may have decreased bone density and muscle imbalances that also result from inactivity. Since the effects of multiple sclerosis are multi-faceted, there are a number of treatments used. Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation is crucial for the treatment of the disease and to minimize the physical and cognitive problems associated with the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation and Treatments
Although there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, there are a number of promising treatments available. The treatments for multiple sclerosis rehabilitation involve a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counseling and psychotherapy when appropriate, and medications.
There are several medications used in multiple sclerosis rehabilitation such as dalfamipridine which is used to treat difficulty walking, baclofen, methylprednisolone which is used to treat acute optic neuritis, amantadine and modafinil which are used to treat fatigue and emotional outbursts, and other experimental medications. Tizanidine, diazepam, clonazepam, and dantrolene which are used to control muscle spasticity.
Treatments for multiple sclerosis include interferon beta-1a, interferon beta-1b, natalizumab, glatiramer acetate, and mitoxantrone. Interferon beta-1a is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis and is approved by the FDA. The drug has been shown to reduce the rate of MS relapses by 18-38 percent. Interferon beta-1b is a similar form of medication as interferon beta-1a, and it is also used to decrease relapses. It may also slow down the occurrence of physical disability.
Multiple sclerosis rehabilitation is in most cases necessary in order for patients to manage the symptoms of the disease and to be able to function in life. Multiple sclerosis rehab is used to maintain and restore functionality of patients with MS. Multiple sclerosis rehab can be used to help patients deal with fundamental tasks like walking, dressing themselves, being able to maintain their homes, and to teach them the use of mobility aids.
Restorative multiple sclerosis rehab is used to restore lost physical function. This type of multiple sclerosis rehabilitation involves training on how to live with decreased functionality and strengthening muscles with physical therapy. Maintenance or preventive multiple sclerosis rehab is used to preserve the patient’s functionality as the symptoms of MS progress. Preventative multiple sclerosis rehab helps to prevent complications and it also slows down or reduces the severity of physical disabilities.
Physical therapists are used in multiple sclerosis rehab clinics to help patients with motor skills such as standing, walking, lifting, moving in a wheelchair and other tasks. They also train MS patients to use the wide number of aids that are available to them. Occupational therapists treat MS patients by focusing on developing skills that require upper body strength, fine motor control, and coordination as a part of multiple sclerosis rehab. OTs also teach patients how to deal with fatigue through energy conservation techniques and efficiency. Urologists treat urinary infections and bladder infections while gastroenterologists treat bowel difficulties as a part of multiple sclerosis rehabilitation.
Speech language pathologists work with MS patients to improve their speech in the case that MS makes speaking difficult. They help MS patients with memory problems, cognitive functioning, and the use of language. Speech therapy during multiple sclerosis rehab involves breath control techniques and speaking techniques. Psychologists help MS patients deal with the emotional and mental difficulties that MS patients or their families may struggle with. They may also treat sexual dysfunction during multiple sclerosis rehab along with the help of neurologists, urologists, and sex therapists.