The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW learns about multiple sclerosis

By Ross Utley/reporter

Before learning they have multiple sclerosis, people with the disease may wake up one morning with blurred vision, no sense of balance and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.

Then, the next day, they feel nice and refreshed, as if nothing odd ever happened.

It’s a common occurrence for people with multiple sclerosis, since symptoms of the disease come on gradually.

People can demonstrate symptoms of multiple sclerosis for years, but the only way to know if they have the illness is to be diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI.

Students and faculty gathered Oct. 13 in the Michael Saenz Conference Center on NW Campus to hear Becky Remington, regional director for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, talk about specifics of the disease.

Seleena Sanchez, a TCC staff interpreter, hosted this seminar as part of Disability Awareness Month.

Approximately 10,000 cases of multiple sclerosis are reported annually in the United States each year, according to the MSAA. The organization also reports that 400,000 people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis, 70 percent women and 30 percent men, and that it is the most common neurological disorder diagnosed in young adults. 

Multiple sclerosis attacks the central nervous system, which damages or destroys the protective covering surrounding the nerves of the brain, eyes and spinal cord, called the myelin.

In most cases, multiple sclerosis is not a life-threatening illness, the MSAA reports. Remington said symptoms include visual changes, fatigue, depression and balance problems.

Though the symptoms for all who have multiple sclerosis are similar, the illness affects men and women differently, Remington said.

“MS is an affluent women’s disease,” she said.

Women are generally diagnosed between 20 and 45 years old while men are usually diagnosed between 30 and 50, Remington said.

“I knew nothing about this disease before Becky spoke,” Sanchez said. “To see the age range this disease targets is very shocking.”

The Food and Drug Administration has approved six medications for long-term treatment of multiple sclerosis.

The medications won’t cure the illness but can help stop it from progressing and can improve the overall wellness and quality of life of those who have it.

Remington also talked about the MSAA, a nonprofit organization that works with everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. The organization provides services to people with multiple sclerosis and their families. All the services the organization provides are free.

One of the items MSAA provides to patients is a cooling vest, which helps those with the illness deal with an intolerance to heat, a common symptom that occurs when a person’s body temperature rises unexpectedly. The vests are equipped with freezable gel packs that line the pockets. A vest can keep a person cool for three to four hours, Remington said.

The MSAA also provides daily living aids such as mechanical grips for getting items that may be out of reach and other tools to help with mobility, ranging from canes and walkers to wheelchairs and electric scooters.

“We also have a home modification program, where we provide a variety of inventory for the person’s home to make their living environment more accessible,” she said.

“Those services include tub/shower chairs, grab bars and ramps.”

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