Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (also known as MS) is a process where the immune system creates an abnormal response which is directed against the central nervous system.  The central nervous system contains the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.  MS is considered an immune-mediated disease.  This term means that the immune system in the body will attack the central nervous system (CNS). Within the CNS is a fatty substance called myelin, and the immune system attacks both the myelin and nerve fibers.  Once damaged, the myelin forms a scar tissue called sclerosis. To clarify, the immune system that normally protects the body from disease, is attacking the body in a harmful way.

There are four different types of MS:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS- This type of MS consists of symptoms called attacks. After these attacks are periods called remissions.
  • Secondary Progressive MS- This type of MS begins after Relapsing-Remitting MS and starts with many attacks in a row.
  • Primary Progressive MS- This MS is gradually getting worse with no clear remission.
  • Progressive Relapsing MS- This MS is gradually progressing along with acute exacerbations.

The causes for this disease are still unknown.  There is a theory that genetics and/or childhood diseases may have an impact.

Symptoms

In many cases it can be difficult to tell if a  person has MS just from looking at him or her. MS does not always mean you are in a wheel chair. Someone with MS could be feeling extreme pain or fatigue and look seemingly normal to others.

Here is a list of symptoms that someone with MS would have:

  • Blurred or doubled vision
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Bowel/bladder functioning problems
  • Weakness or numbness in limbs
  • Trouble retaining information (memory complications)
  • Loss of vision, usually occurs in one eye at a time
  • Pain moving eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in body parts

Characteristics

  • Usually occurs in ages between 20-40
  • Caucasians are more than twice as likely to have MS
  • More common in women
  • Occurs more often in people who live in colder climates
  • People who have MS genes are more susceptible to getting the disease

Testing

  • Blood tests can be used to rule out other possible diseases
  • An MRI can be used to reveal MS in the brain and spinal cord
  • A spinal tap, also called lumbar puncture, will show white blood cell abnormalities and could rule out other infections

Treatment

There are treatments to modify progression (such as injections to the skin or muscle, and medications).

For example:

  • Beta Interferons, Dimethyl furnarate, and Teriflunomide

There are also treatments that focus on minimizing the symptoms.

For example:

  • physical therapy, muscle relaxation, and fatigue reducing medications

Teaching Strategies

When teaching students with MS, it is important to understand their needs and remember that they can be in pain at any given time throughout the day.

Accommodations that can be made for students with MS include:

  • Multiple choice tests if the child has trouble retaining information
  • Easy bathroom access to aid trouble with bladder
  • Frequent breaks to help fatigue
  • Reducing homework
  • Providing a seat close to the instructor and lesson being taught so that there is no strain on their vision

Technology

The devices listed below are just some examples of resources that people with MS could benefit from when getting through their daily routine, including the workplace and classroom.

  • Walkers
  • Manuals
  • Wheel chairs
  • Grab bars
  • Bedroom, bathroom, and vehicle modification.
  • Alternate keyboards, such as the IntelliKeys- creating a bigger key surface to press.

Laws

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and IEP (Independent Education Program) - these acts ensure that children receive access to special education that fits their unique needs.

  • Section 504 prevents discrimination against any child with a disability.

Family and Community Resources

-Multiple Sclerosis Center

400 Parnassus Ave. 8th floor,

San Francisco CA94117

-Maryland: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

2219 York Road

Suite 302

Timonium, MD 21093

-Keep S'Myelin

A newsletter for kids with MS

Get a free subscription by calling: 1-800-344-4867

References

Definition of MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Retrieved from http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Defini...

Disease and Conditions, Multiple Sclerosis. (1988-2015). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/basics/definition/con-20026689

Federal Laws Pertaining to ADHD Diagnosed Children. (1995-2014). Front Line. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/medicating/schools/feds.html

What is Multiple Sclerosis. (2015). Everyday Health Media. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/multiple-sclerosis/

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