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  • Writer's picturePhysical Therapy International Service

Nervous System Disease  

Authors: Aiyannah Wilson, Alena Combes- Baldwin, Nazjae Arthurton, Sarina Brown 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system (CNS) disease. This disease has an impact on the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves (nerves of the eye). The neurons are wrapped in a sheath called myelin which serves to speed up electrical transmissions. The myelin can be damaged due to a trigger in the immune system and attack the CNS. Some risk factors of MS can be age (onset is averaged around 20-40 years of age, sex (where women are 2-3x more likely than men), certain infections (Epstein-Barr), race (caucasians have a higher prevalence), and low vitamin D levels. The genetic inheritance is recessively expressed (non-dominant) and carries through the x chromosome (a phenotypic female). 

MS manifests in various forms, each presenting unique challenges for those affected. Relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS) is characterized by periods of symptom exacerbation followed by partial or complete remission. Primary progressive MS (PP-MS) involves a gradual worsening of symptoms without distinct relapses. Secondary progressive MS (SP-MS) follows an initial RR-MS phase, marked by a steady progression of symptoms with or without relapses. Understanding these different types of MS is crucial for both patients and healthcare professionals in developing tailored treatment plans and managing the disease effectively.

If an individual suspects that they have a nervous system disease, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis. Seeing a neurologist or another neuroscience specialist is a crucial first step. These experts can use advanced testing and imaging techniques to assess the functioning of your nerves and brain. Blood and urine tests, as well as a range of other diagnostic tests, may be used to help identify the type of nervous system disease you have. These may include computed tomography, lumbar puncture, electroencephalography, myelogram, polysomnogram, and biopsy of the brain, nerve, skin, and muscle. An individual should not hesitate to seek medical attention if they are experiencing symptoms of a nervous system disease. Early diagnosis can help ensure the best possible outcomes for your health and well-being.

Medical management for multiple sclerosis (MS) encompasses a range of approaches aimed at slowing disease progression, managing symptoms, and improving quality of life. Steroids, such as corticosteroids, are often prescribed during MS relapses to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery. Immune modulating drugs, including interferons, glatiramer acetate, and monoclonal antibodies help to regulate the immune system and reduce the frequency and severity of relapses. Infused medications are administered intravenously to target specific aspects of the immune response implicated in MS. In severe cases or during relapses unresponsive to other treatments, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) or plasma exchange may be utilized to modulate the immune system and remove harmful antibodies. Overall, the medical management of MS is tailored to individual patient needs and may involve a combination of these therapies to effectively manage the disease.

The primary objective of a physical therapist is to enhance quality of life through hands-on treatment. Their role is particularly crucial in assisting individuals dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS). They aid patients in recovering and sustaining strength via exercises, improving walking patterns, and refining balance and coordination. Additionally, physical therapists incorporate stretching routines to preserve mobility and flexibility while mitigating muscle spasms. They also educate patients on utilizing mobility aids like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Seeking guidance from a physical therapist can provide valuable insights into how the body may change with disease progression and strategies to mitigate worsening symptoms. Ultimately, physical therapists strive to improve overall fitness, allowing patients to lead active and fulfilling lives.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong chronic condition that affects the nerves and causes symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty walking and speech issues. Quality of life will depend on the patient's symptoms and their response to treatment. There is no cure at the moment, but there are various treatments to help manage symptoms. 


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