Multiple Sclerosis: What It Is, Treatment Options & Support For Caregivers

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that will likely bring challenges and changes to your life journey and that of your family. But you're not alone and there is lots of support available to help you and your loved ones.

MyHealios is committed to providing valuable support to those affected by multiple sclerosis. Using secure and private telehealth technology, MyHealios provides family behavioral therapy to inform, train, and empower people facing multiple sclerosis to live better. Our highly trained family behavioral therapists can help make daily life easier, lower stress, and improve feelings of well-being. All you need is a basic computer, tablet, or smartphone.

One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be cognitive shifts. These may include memory challenges, scheduling and problem-solving concerns, and changes in how quickly the individual processes information. While no two people with multiple sclerosis are exactly the same, it's possible that cognitive symptoms can, in turn, contribute to emotional distress that may impact relationships. Family behavioral therapy, like that provided via telehealth by MyHealios, can be helpful in helping those with multiple sclerosis and their loved ones to understand symptoms and treatments and to develop communication, stress-management and problem-solving skills to better address the challenges and changes related to the condition.

With this in mind, MyHealios is conducting a study in New Jersey, USA to help refine a multple sclerosis skills training program for individuals with the condition and their families. Recruitment for this study is complete but if you are interested in helping with future research please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic medical condition where there is a disruption within the insulation of the nerves around the brain and spine. Multiple sclerosis typically affects people between the ages of 15 years and 60 years. Scientists have not yet pinpointed its cause.

Caring for Someone with Multiple Sclerosis

Living with multiple sclerosis can mean changes in daily life, relationships, career, and more. But did you know that active, involved, knowledgeable caregivers and loved ones can play a key role in helping patients to achieve goals and improve well-being? We encourage you to embrace your ability to make a difference. Finding the right support can help. So can learning more about the condition, its symptoms and treatments. Specific skills trainings and communication techniques can also do much to improve day-to-day life and lower stress. From dressing and mobiliy to finances and navigating the healthcare system, no one is expected to be an expert immediately. To help you learn the things you want and need in order live better as a caregiver, consider MyHealios.

Overview of Condition

Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is more common than you probably realize. It's actually the most prevalent disease in young adults around the world. Approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis and there are 2.5 million people with the condition worldwide. Multiple sclerosis affects the autoimmune system within the central nervous system of the human body. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system mistakes myelin (the coating around nerve fibers) for a foreign body and attacks it, stripping it from the fibers and leaving scars (lesions).

Typically, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 years. The condition occurs twice as often in women as in men. While there is evidence that some people are more genetically predisposed towards developing multiple sclerosis, it is not an inherited condition. The most common early symptoms of multiple sclerosis are fatigue, vision problems, cognitive issues, mobility difficulties, and psychological concerns. But no two cases of multiple sclerosis are exactly alike

Adapting to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be challenging - for individuals as well as families and caregivers. You may have questions about the disease, what happens next, and the future. The MyHealios program can help by providing valuable, disease-specific education and training to make living with multiple sclerosis easier.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

Benign Multiple Sclerosis Can be detected by an MRI scan but otherwise exists without symptoms and with little or no disability.

Multiple Sclerosis Pediatric Children can develop multiple sclerosis and may experience resultant cognitive difficulties, movement issues and tremors, and challenges at school.

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis From first primary symptoms this type of multiple sclerosis is progressive. Symptoms gradually incresae over time.

Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Typically marked by distinct periods (4-6 weeks) of symptoms which then fade away either partially or completely. Approximately 85% of those with multiple sclerosis are diagnosed with this relapsing-remitting form.

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis A secondary stage of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis involving a sustained buildup of disability. Incomplete recovery from relapses likely contributes to the gradual progression of the condition. About 50% of individuals with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis progress to this form of the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common early symptoms of multiple sclerosis are: tiredness, vision problems, numbness, dizziness, muscle problems and spasms, and problems with balance and coordination. Indivduals may also experience cognitive issues, mobility difficulties and psychological concerns.

Cognitive

Memory loss, speech problems, coordination difficulties

Mobility

Fatigue, tingling and numbness, dizziness, muscle weakness and spasms, problems with balance and coordination, difficulty with walking

Psychological

Mood swings, depression, anxiety, sense of loss, grief, isolation, withdrawal

Secondary Conditions

Bladder and bowel dysfunction, vision problems, swallowing problems, sexual dysfunction

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of multuple sclerosis can be a prolonged process whereby various tests are conducted to determine the cause of a person's health concerns, the extent of the disease, and its progressiveness. Along the way, be sure ask questions, take notes, and bring a support person to help you remember what's been said.

Neurological Exam - A neurological examination is the assessment of sensory neuron and motor responses, especially reflexes, to determine whether the nervous system is impaired.

MRI Scan - Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan. An MRI scan will determine the extent of lesion damage and help to monitor the progression of the disease.

Evoked Potential - Evoked potential (EP) tests measure the electrical activity of the brain in response to stimulation of specific sensory nerve pathways.

Lumbar Puncture - A medical procedure where a needle is inserted into the lower part of the spine to test for conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system. During the procedure, pressure is measured and samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are taken from inside the spine.

Treatment Options

There are many ways multiple sclerosis and its symptoms can be managed and disease progression reduced. Current treatment and management options include medications (DMTs or disease modifying treatments), exercise programs, adaptations around the home, physiotherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, cognitive behavioral therapy, family behavioral therapy, and support programs. Research into new treatments is also ongoing. Discuss all the possible options (including potential involvement in clinical trials) with your treatment team. For cognitive behavioral therapy and family behavioral therapy to help improve satisfaction with family life and treatment, communications, stress management, disease understanding and awareness, goal achievement, and more: consider MyHealios.