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Wellness for People with MS – Update on the National MS Society Response

September 21, 2015

Wellness – and the strategies needed to achieve it – is a high priority for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). People want to know what they can do today to feel their best, and whether lifestyle interventions can impact the course of the disease.

In the pursuit of personal wellness, people with MS have felt frustrated by a lack of support from healthcare professionals, who say there is not sufficient scientific evidence to provide guidance in this area, or who may not have the time, expertise or interest to discuss it with their patients. As people develop their MS management strategies, they want to understand the role of mainstream medicine, including disease-modifying therapies and symptom management medications, as well as the role of wellness behaviors such as diet and exercise. Are both of these approaches necessary? Can or should wellness strategies be used instead of medication(s)? How can the greatest benefits be gained, and how soon?

Three areas of wellness consistently rise to the top for people with MS. They want to know how they can manage their MS with diet and with exercise. People with MS also identify as a priority learning how to manage the mood changes – particularly depression – that are so common with this disease, in order to achieve and/or maintain emotional wellness.

To address these priorities, the National MS Society convened a group of people with MS, healthcare professionals, researchers and Society staff in November 2014 to take the following steps:
• Review the current knowledge in the areas of diet, exercise and emotional wellness
• Identify gaps in knowledge in these areas in order to inform the Society’s research agenda
• Suggest educational resources and support programs in these areas to better meet the needs and interests of people living with MS

In March 2015, this team produced a paper for people affected by MS that reflected the experiences, opinions and consensus recommendations of the individuals who participated in this meeting. Read the paper here

Now, the team has published a paper in US Neurology, a free-access, peer-reviewed journal, in order to disseminate the meeting results to the healthcare community. Read the paper here

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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