2018 MS Walk Huntsville

May 07, 2018

We had the best time at the 2018 MS Walk in Huntsville!  Thanks to all the Therapy Achievementsstaff and their families for their hard work and support of this great cause.  Last year alone, the MS Society invested nearly $50 million to support more than 380 new and ongoing research projects around the world while providing program services to over one million people.  Research is aimed at finding the cause of MS, finding more treatments and, ultimately, ending the disease forever.  By working together,  we can end MS.

Multiple Sclerosis Facts:

  • Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS).
  • The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
  • In Multiple Sclerosis, the body's immune system does not recognize the central nervous system as belonging to the body.  Instead, views the CNS as not belonging  - much like it views bacteria and viruses.
  • To protect itself from something that "doesn't belong", the immune system causes inflammation.
  • Inflammation damages myelin -- the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers -- as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
  • When myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in Multiple Sclerosis, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped completely.
  • Damage to areas of the CNS may produce a variety of neurological symptoms that will vary among people with MS in type and severity
  • The damaged areas develop scar tissue which gives the disease its name - multiple areas of scarring or multiple sclerosis.
  • The cause of MS is not known, but it is believed to involve genetic susceptibility, abnormalities in the immune system and environmental factors that combine to trigger the disease.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

  • People with Multiple Sclerosis typically experience one of three disease courses:  relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, or primary-progressive.
 Relapsing Remitting MS:  this is the most common disease course and approximately 85 percent of people with MS are initially diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS.
  • It is characterized by clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurologic symptoms.  These attacks - also called relapses or exacerbations - are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remissions).
  • During remissions, all symptoms may disappear, or some symptoms may continue and become permanent. However, there is no apparent progression of the disease during the periods of remission.
  • Relapsing remitting MS can be further characterized as either active (with relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active, as well as worsening (a confirmed increase in disability over a specified period of time following a relapse) or not worsening.

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS):  This  follows an initial relapsing-remitting course.

  • Most people who are diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS will eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time.
  • Secondary progressive MS can be further characterized at different points in time as either active (with relapses and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active,as well as with progression (evidence of disease worsening on an objective measure of change over time, with or without relapses) or without progression.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS):  Primary progressive MS is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions.

  • Primary progressive MS can be further characterized at different points in time as  either active (with an occasional relapse and/or evidence of new MRI activity) or not active.
  • Individuals who were previously diagnosed with progressive-relapsing MS would now be considered primary progressive.
  • Approximately 15 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS.

Common Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Fatigue:  Occurs in about 80% of people, can significantly interfere with the ability to function at home and work, and may be the most prominent symptom in a person who otherwise has minimal activity limitations.

Walking (Gait) Difficulties:  Related to several factors including weakness, spasticity, loss of balance, sensory deficit and fatigue, and can be helped by physical therapy, assistive therapy and medications.

Numbness and Tingling:  Numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs) is often the first symptom experienced by those eventually diagnosed as having MS.

Dizziness and Vertigo: People with MS may feel off balance or lightheaded, or -- much less often -- have the sensation that they or their surroundings are spinning (vertigo).

Spasticity: Refers to feelings of stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms; can occur in any limb, but it is much more common in the legs.

Weakness: Weakness in MS, which results from deconditioning of unused muscles or damage to nerves that stimulate muscles, can be managed with rehabilitation strategies and the use of mobility aids and other assistive devices.

Vision Problems: The first symptom of MS for many people. Onset of blurred vision, poor contrast or color vision, and pain on eye movement can be

frightening -- and should be evaluated Sexual Problems: Very common in the general population including people with MS. Sexual responses can be affected by damage in the central nervous system, as well by symptoms such as fatigue and spasticity, and by psychological factors.promptly.

Bladder Problems: Bladder dysfunction, which occurs in at least 80% of people with MS, can usually be managed quite successfully with medications, fluid management, and intermittent self-catheterization.

Bowel Problems: Constipation is a particular concern among people with MS, as is loss of control of the bowels. Bowel issues can typically be managed through diet, adequate fluid intake, physical activity and medication.

Cognitive Changes: Refers to a range of high-level brain functions affected in more than 50% of people with MS, including the ability to process incoming information, learn and remember new information, organize and problem-solve, focus attention and accurately perceive the environment.

Emotional Changes: Can be a reaction to the stresses of living with MS as well as the result of neurologic and immune changes. Significant depression, mood swings, irritability, and episodes of uncontrollable laughing and crying pose significant challenges for people with MS and their families.problem-solve, focus attention and accurately perceive the environment.

Depression: Studies have suggested that clinical depression -- the severest form of depression -- is among the most common symptoms of MS. It is more common among people with MS than it is in the general population or in persons with many other chronic, disabling conditions.

The good news is you don't have to fight MS alone.  The 2018 Multiple Sclerosis Walk Huntsville not only raises funds for research and treatment but serves as a way of bringing people with MS together.  Together we accomplish more!