Karachi: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults according to a 2008 WHO publication. Although some people with MS lead functional lives without acute disability, 60 per cent of people with MS become incapable of walking only 20 years after the first onset of the disease. “Women are two to three times more likely than men to develop to Multiple Sclerosis, which leads to a severely diminished quality of life,” according to Dr Mughis Sheerani, Consultant Neurologist, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH). Dr Sheerani added “it is important that physicians in Pakistan recognise the early symptoms of MS so it is properly diagnosed and its progression controlled.” MRI scans of the brain with contrast are the gold standard tests to confirm MS. Though the cause of this often devastating illness is still largely unknown, new treatments are now available to manage the disease. To shed more light on the issues related to MS, AKUH hosted a public awareness programme highlighting treatments, symptoms and effects of MS in Pakistan.
MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease where the body's defence system attacks the fatty tissue surrounding the nerves, brain and spinal cord. It has different symptoms ranging from numbness in the limbs to paralysis and double vision, all of which are caused when damage to this fatty tissue interferes with signals transmitted around the body through the nervous system.
Patients who have MS usually suffer from multiple attacks that cause more damage as the disease progresses. “While no cure exists for the disease, there are new cutting edge treatments available to combat the progression of the disease,” said Dr Mohammad Wasay, Consultant Neurologist, AKUH. A database of MS patients has been set up at Aga Khan University where two studies related to the genetic factors and progression of MS among Pakistani patients are underway. Research shows that new treatments modify how the disease progresses and helps tackle relapses and manage symptoms, allowing patients to live more comfortably with the disease. To better equip patients to cope with the physical effects of the disease, Asim Mehmood, Physiotherapist, AKUH, spoke about various rehabilitation options open to patients and their families, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, among others.
Department of Public Affairs
Aga Khan University
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