Friday, September 19, 2008

Living with MS? Surprising Stats about Mobility, Attitudes

(ARA) - Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms can include walking and coordination difficulties, fatigue, numbness, weakness and visual problems. And it’s not a rare disease. More than 400,000 people in the United States and nearly 2.5 million worldwide are living with MS.

In a recent landmark Harris Interactive survey on MS, two-thirds of people with the disease say mobility loss is a big problem. And while 70 percent of people with MS rate mobility loss as the most troubling part of their disease, surprisingly almost half do not discuss walking problems with their doctor.

“It’s a big problem when people don’t communicate clearly about mobility “ says Dr. Nicholas LaRocca, vice president of health care delivery and policy research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “That’s because difficulty walking can affect so many aspects of someone’s life and independence.”

The survey found that mobility challenges have a big impact on the quality of life among many people with MS, limiting their day-to-day activities and independence. Fully 70 percent of people surveyed reported that walking problems make it difficult to complete simple tasks like going to the bank. The majority of survey respondents also said that mobility loss has affected their self esteem and limited their ability to take vacations or attend family events such as weddings.

“As someone who has lived with MS for over two decades, I see people with MS are living fuller and more active lives, but we have a long way to go,” says Mimi Mosher, a patient advocate. “This survey sheds new light on the challenges that thousands of us with MS are experiencing every day.”

While mobility loss is a great concern, some findings about the use of mobility devices including wheel chairs and scooters were also troubling. Most people in the survey feel that using mobility devices is “worth it” to retain their independence. But 40 percent claim that they are embarrassed to use devices or don’t use them as often as they should. Embarrassment may be causing people with MS to risk falls and injuries by not using mobility devices as often as they should.

Mobility problems can be compounded by fatigue, another common symptom of MS. About 75 percent of people in the survey report that they experience fatigue at least twice a week. Along with mobility loss, fatigue can limit their ability to handle daily tasks at home or at work. “Many people do not realize the dramatic effect fatigue can have on a person’s ability to get through the day, and how it can make other symptoms, such as mobility, even worse,” says Dr. LaRocca.

On the brighter side, the survey did show that many people with MS are taking steps to preserve their mobility and their health – with exercise. About 74 percent exercise regularly. For more information about this survey and MS, visit the National MS Society Web site at www.nationalMSsociety.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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