Monday, March 06, 2006

NSSLHA presents the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Congratulations to pre-graduate student winner Ms. Anna Lim! She was the lucky raffle winner of the fabulous SLP-oriented clipboard!


Tonight, NSSLHA welcomed two representatives from the Southern California Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). Ms. Julia Hakim is the Programs Mangers of Knowledge/Family Programs and Ms. Mercy Murcia is the Programs Manager of Public Information/Education. Together, they presented information on multiple sclerosis (MS).

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord (collectively called the “central nervous system” or “CNS,” according to Dr. Nancy Manasse, NSSLHA @ CSULA’s advisor). In particular, MS causes gradual destruction of the myelin that surrounds neurons located throughout the CNS. In many individuals, the demyelinization causes various symptoms depending upon which neural signals are interrupted. The symptoms that individuals experience vary from one person to another. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness or tingling sensations in the limbs. Severe symptoms include paralysis, loss of vision, and/or cognitive decline. Many individuals with MS also experience difficulties with speech production, which is where SLPs come into the picture!

As Ms. Hakim disclosed, “MS is not as rare as many people think.” The *prevalence rate,* or the number of individuals affected at a given time, is an estimated 400,000 people across the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. However, individuals are being diagnosed at an increasingly younger age. Less than a week ago, an article on the cover of “Wall Street Journal” described doctors becoming more aware of this disease in children and teenagers. In addition to the 10,000 children that are already diagnosed, as many as 15,000 children may be experiencing signs of the disease. Moreover, MS typically affects females more than males, as much as a 3-to-1 ratio.

Unfortunately, the cause of MS is unknown, and the progress, severity, and symptoms of MS in any individual cannot be predicted. Although treatments are available, they serve only to slow down the progression of the disease. They do not cure or reverse the disease. The difficulty in finding a cure also rests on the fact that finding a cure has a different meaning for different people, since no two individuals experience the same symptomatology and severity.

Until there is a cure, NMSS will continue to advocate for individuals with MS.

“The mission of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is to end the devastating effects of MS.”

NMSS is the “largest private sponsor of MS research in the world.” Out of every dollar that is donated, 48 cents goes to local programs and services for people with MS and their families, 31 cents goes to research and national programs, and 15 cents goes to fundraising.

NMSS funds researchers that are dedicated to finding the cause of the disease, a cure, and additional treatments. In addition, NMSS also sponsors many self-help and special interest support groups and educational programs. An extensive network of counseling and support exists for individuals with MS, their significant others, caregivers, and professionals (such as SLPs!) that surround these individuals. “Support means different thing to different people,” commented Ms. Murcia. “We have something for everyone.”

“MS attacks. Fear and unpredictability change lives forever. As [the National Multiple Sclerosis Society] continue to search for a cure, there's hope. For 59 years, the Society has been here to help people live with multiple sclerosis today and without MS tomorrow. People depend on us. This is why we depend on you.”

We hope you will join us today in fighting MS, “one person at a time,” by participating in the MS Walk on April 9th at Griffith Park, or by donating as little as a $1 to the cause.

For more information on multiple sclerosis, volunteer opportunities, educational programs, support groups, and much more, please visit Southern California Chapter’s NMSS website or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s general website. To reach the nearest Society office, call 1-800-FIGHT-MS.

Lastly, to learn from an educational standpoint on how SLPs are directly involved with individuals with multiple sclerosis, take COMD 555 (Motor Speech Disorders)!

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