What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS), is an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system, launching an attack on its own tissue. Multiple sclerosis can range from relatively benign to somewhat disabling to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted. Multiple sclerosis affects balance, coordination, strength, and other body functions to varying degrees, based on severity and form.

What are the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

Early multiple sclerosis symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness, fatigue, poor balance, vertigo, and blurred vision. Symptoms often start between ages 20 and 40. As multiple sclerosis progresses, most people with MS have attacks, also called relapses, when the condition gets noticeably worse. They’re usually followed by times of recovery when symptoms improve.

How is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?

Based on symptoms, tests for multiple sclerosis are as follows:

  • Blood tests to look for other problems with MS-like symptoms, like Lyme disease
  • A test to measure the speed of signals traveling along one’s nerves
  • An MRI, which creates images of the brain, so a doctor can check for areas of damage
  • A spinal tap to check the fluid that flows in the brain and spinal cord; this may show signs that the immune system is harming the nervous system, which is what happens in MS.


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What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

The causes of multiple sclerosis remain unknown. The disease is especially common in Scotland, Scandinavia, and throughout northern Europe. In the U.S. the prevalence of MS is higher in whites than in other racial groups. Multiple sclerosis may, in part, be inherited (genetics contribute to the increased risk among family members). Siblings of an affected person have a 2 percent to 5 percent risk of developing MS. Some scientists theorize that MS develops because a person is born with a genetic predisposition to react to some environmental agent, which, upon exposure, triggers an autoimmune response.

What are the Types of Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) is one of the MS disease courses. CIS refers to a first episode of neurologic symptoms that lasts at least 24 hours and is caused by inflammation or demyelination (loss of the myelin that covers the nerve cells) in the central nervous system (CNS).
  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), is the most common disease course – 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. At different points in time, RRMS 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. Approximately 85 percent of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS.
  • Primary progressive MS (PPMS), is characterized by worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions. PPMS 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, as well as with progression (evidence of disease worsening on an objective measure of change over time, with or without relapse or new MRI activity) or without progression. Approximately 15 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS.
  • Secondary progressive MS (SPMS), follows an initial relapsing-remitting course. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time. SPMS 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.

Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

Disease-modifying therapies are used to treat “relapsing forms” of multiple sclerosis, which include RRMS, as well as progressive forms in those individuals who continue to experience relapses. At the present time, there are no therapies that have been approved to treat PPMS without relapses. Scientists around the world are actively working to find effective treatments for progressive forms of multiple sclerosis.

Prognosis for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is seldom fatal and life expectancy is shortened by only a few months. Concerns about prognosis center primarily on the quality of life and prospects for disability. After 15 years, fewer than 20 percent of those with multiple sclerosis are fully debilitated; another 20 percent may require a wheelchair, or use crutches, or a cane to ambulate; but, fully 60 percent are ambulatory without assistance and some will have little affect at all. In fact, as many as one-third of all patients with multiple sclerosis go through life without any persistent disability, and suffer only intermittent, transient episodes of symptoms.

Mobility for those with Multiple Sclerosis

Approximately 30 percent of those living with multiple sclerosis require a wheelchair, often a power chair due to limited strength and fatigue. Quantum Rehab®, the global leader in individualized power chair solutions, puts an emphasis on mobility technologies specific toward those living with multiple sclerosis. Quantum Power Chairs incorporate power-adjustable seating for user repositioning and comfort; specialty drive controls, including using a single finger or one’s head to operate the power chair; and, a highly-adaptable design to meet an individual’s current and future needs.

Quantum Power Chairs feature the latest advanced technologies to increase the independence of those living with multiple sclerosis. iLevel® seat elevation technology allows a user to operate the power chair at seated or standing height. Bluetooth® is also integrated into Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 electronics, so those with multiple sclerosis can operate much of their environment with the power chair drive control, itself.

In all, Quantum Power Chairs are designed to give those living with multiple sclerosis optimal medical comfort and maximum independence. Please click here for more information on Quantum Power Chair solutions for those living with multiple sclerosis.

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