Tag Archives: multiple sclerosis awareness

‘Miracle’ stem cell therapy reverses multiple sclerosis Read Now

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The treatment, is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS, which has no cure, and affects around 100,000 people in Britain.

A pioneering new stem cell treatment is allowing multiple sclerosis sufferers to walk, run and even dance again, in results branded ‘miraculous’ by doctors.

Patients who have been wheelchair-bound for 10 years have regained the use of their legs in the groundbreaking therapy, while others who were blind can now see again.

The treatment, is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS, which has no cure, and affects around 100,000 people in Britain.

The two dozen patients who are taking part in the trials at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and Kings College Hospital, London, have effectively had their immune systems ‘rebooted’.

Although it is unclear what causes MS, some doctors believe that it is the immune system itself which attacks the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation and pain, disability and in severe cases, death.

In the new treatment, specialists use a high dose of chemotherapy to knock out the immune system before rebuilding it with stem cells taken from the patient’s own blood.

Stem cells are so effective because they can become any cell in the body based on their environment.

“Since we started treating patients three years ago, some of the results we have seen have been miraculous,” Professor Basil Sharrack, a consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told The Sunday Times.

“This is not a word I would use lightly, but we have seen profound neurological improvements.”

During the treatment, the patient’s stem cells are harvested and stored. Then doctors use aggressive drugs which are usually given to cancer patients to completely destroy the immune system.

The harvested stem cells are then infused back into the body where they start to grow new red and white blood cells within just two weeks.

Within a month the immune system is back up and running fully and that is when patients begin to notice that they are recovering.

Holly Drewry, 25, of Sheffield, was wheelchair bound after the birth of her daughter Isla, now two.

But she claims the new treatment has transformed her life.

“It worked wonders,” she said. “I remember being in the hospital… after three weeks, I called my mum and said: ‘I can stand’. We were all crying.

“I can run a little bit, I can dance. I love dancing, it is silly but I do. I enjoy walking my daughter around the park in her pram. It is a miracle but I can do it all.”

However specialists warn that patients need to be fit to benefit from the new treatment.

“This is not a treatment that is suitable for everybody because it is very aggressive and patients need to be quite fit to withstand the effects of the chemotherapy,” warned Prof Sharrack.

Charities welcomed the research but also urged caution.

Dr Sorrel Bickley, Research Communications Manager at the MS Society said: “This new study reports very encouraging findings, which add to a growing body of research into stem cell transplantation in MS. However, there are limitations to how we can interpret these results because there was no control group used, which means we can’t be sure the results are robust.

“Momentum in this area of research is building rapidly and we’re eagerly awaiting the results of larger, randomised trials and longer term follow up data.

“New treatments for MS are urgently needed, but as yet there are no stem cell therapies licensed for MS anywhere in the world. This means they aren’t yet established as being both safe and effective. This type of stem cell therapy is very aggressive and does carry significant risks, so we would strongly urge caution in seeking this treatment outside of a properly regulated clinical trial.”

Video Game Therapy Could Soothe Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Brain Injuries

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There’s really no scientific consensus. Whenever you read a headline about video games having been proven to be beneficial or proven to be detrimental, know that what you’re reading is probably bullshit. Science is not always about proving one thing or disproving another. Science is about compiling the best possible evidence via sound research practices, and then doing your darndest to grasp the facts through the static. If you’re lucky, the experts reach consensus about a topic and you can more or less put it to bed.

With that said, I’d like to draw your attention to an interesting piece by Joseph Bennington-Castro of Everyday Health. Bennington-Castro compiles several bits of research to present the case for video games as a potential therapy tool for people with multiple sclerosis:

“So far, studies of video game use by people with MS have focused mainly on balance. But other research has indicated that certain types of video games may help with symptoms that are often associated with MS, such as loss of fine motor skills, depression, and memory loss.”

We’ve seen studies such as this one communicate positive results for therapy using Wii Fitbalance boards. As one of the main symptoms of MS is loss of balance (due to miscommunication between the brain and spinal cord), practicing with a game helps patients adapt. Bennington-Castro notes that the Wii Fit balance board has been used to treat other neurological issues. The photo at the top of this article, for instance, features a demonstration of the U.S. Navy’s adoption of Wii Fit‘s yoga program as a physical therapy tool.

I recommend taking a look at Bennington-Castro’s full piece (linked again below) for his perspective on how video games that prioritize cognition, memory, and motor skills could also be beneficial for MS patients. The main takeaway isn’t that video games are magical, healthy, or innately therapeutic, but rather that they can potentially be used as helpful mental exercise tools.

Read Now: Top 10 Myths About Multiple Sclerosis

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Myths and facts about MS

by Denise Mann

Most of us know or know of someone with multiple sclerosis (MS), but how much do we really know about this illness? MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system misfires against myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. are living with MS, yet there are many misconceptions about the illness (and its prognosis).

Here we debunk the top 10 myths, and tell you what you can really expect if you, or someone you love, has been diagnosed with MS.

MS is a death sentence

The facts: MS is not a death sentence. Life expectancy is normal or close to normal for most people with MS.

It is a life sentence, however, meaning that there is no cure—although there are plenty oftreatments to slow MS down and reduce symptoms.

“Many people with MS live full, active lives,” says Nancy L. Sicotte, M.D., director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “We think of it as a chronic disease that can be managed, but there are a small percentage of people with severe MS who will die from complications.”

You’ll need a wheelchair

The facts: Most people with MS will never need a wheelchair or other assistive device to get around. “When patients come in after their diagnosis, they are usually devastated because they think it means they will be in a wheelchair in five years, but this is simply not true,” Dr. Sicotte says.

Thanks to earlier detection and better treatments, you can’t assume that you’d know someone has MS just by looking at them.

Everyone’s MS follows the same path

The facts:  This is not your neighbor’s MS or your mother’s or that celebrity you follow on TV. The truth is that no two cases of MS are ever alike. Some people have mild numbness in the limbs once in their lifetime, while others may develop severe paralysis or loss of vision. The course of MS is often unpredictable.

“You can’t even look at family members who have MS to say that ‘this is how my MS will behave,’”says Carrie Lyn Sammarco, of the Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.”MS varies from person to person, and even within the person.”

Only old people get MS

The facts: MS is not a disease of aging. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. That said, young children, teens, and even seniors can also develop MS.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have MS—and 200 more people are diagnosed every week.

MS is on the rise

The facts: Researchers can’t say for sure that MS is on the rise. “We may be getting better at diagnosing it and there may be cases that we would not have diagnosed in the past due to the advent of MRI scans,” says Dr. Sicotte.

We can say that the gap between women and men with MS is expanding. “We know women are diagnosed with MS  more frequently than men, but the ratio is increasing,” she says. “It used to be two women for every one man and now it is approaching four women to every one man!”

Women with MS can’t get pregnant

The facts: Like with some other autoimmune diseases, pregnancy may actually be a good thing for women with MS. “The majority of women with MS will go into remission during their third trimester of pregnancy,” Dr. Sicotte says. There is even a growing body of evidence that pregnancy can lower a women’s risk for ever developing MS in the first place.

One study of more than 700 Australian women showed that women with at least one child were about 50% less likely to develop MS than women without kids. The reduction was even greater for women with three or more children. Researchers don’t know why this is, but they suspect that hormonal milieu of pregnancy may play a role.

Women with MS can’t breast-feed

The facts: While MS often goes into a period of remission during pregnancy, many women will relapse after delivery. “If the disease was active before pregnancy, there is a higher risk for a relapse afterward,” Dr. Sicotte says.

Some of the medications used to treat MS flares can’t be taken while breast-feeding. It’s best to discuss your risks and medication with your doctor, but some women can safely breast-feed with MS. Don’t despair, adds NYU’s Sammarco. “We can help develop a plan that allows most women with MS to breast-feed.”

MS risk is all in your genes

The facts: “It is clearly an autoimmune disease,” Dr. Sicotte says. Genes do play a role, but they are not the be all and end all.  “If you do a detailed family history, there will likely be other cases of MS or autoimmunity in the family, but this is just part of the equation.”

Risk for MS is about 10 times higher if you have a family member with MS, but environmental factors and possibly infectious agents may play a role in determining who develops MS and who doesn’t.

People with MS should avoid the gym

The facts:  “In the olden days, people were told that they should not exercise if they have MS,” says Dr. Sicotte. But now we know that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for people with MS—unless they are experiencing a relapse. The tide changed in 1996 when researchers at the University of Utah showed that aerobic exercise improved many of the symptoms of MS including bladder and bowel function, fatigue, and depression.

Many other studies support these findings. Exercise can cause someone with MS to become overheated, which can trigger symptoms, but staying hydrated and balancing activities with rest can help people stay cool.”Weight loss can help too if you are overweight” says Dr. Sicotte. “The less you have to move around, the easier it is to move.”

MS is curable

The facts: Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS yet. That said, long-term remission is possible for many people. Some may never experience any further symptoms after they are diagnosed with MS, but evidence of progression can still pop up on new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain.

“MRI changes occur 7-10 times more frequently than clinical activity,” Dr. Sicotte says. The good news is that there are more MS treatments available today than ever before and advances with stem cell transplants and other cutting-edge technologies may one day represent a true cure for MS.