Identify and discuss evidence in the literature that nurses can be effective in assisting sufferers of multiple sclerosis in maintaining mobility and quality of life. Include within the discussion information relating to social adaptations, drug and non drug therapy.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The progress, severity and specific symptoms of the disease cannot be predicted; symptoms may range from tingling and numbness to paralysis and blindness. MS is a devastating disease because people live with its unpredictable physical and emotional effects for the rest of their lives. Twice as many women as men have MS, with the onset of symptoms occurring most often between the ages of 20 and 40. Studies indicate that genetic factors may make certain individuals more susceptible to the disease, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited.
It occurs more commonly among Caucasians, especially those of northern European ancestry, but people of African, Asian and Hispanic backgrounds are not immune. Kumar & Clark (2002:1190).
As outlined on the MS Society of Australia's website, "an estimated 2,500,000 people in the world have the disease MS. The National Health Survey of 2001 indicated that there are approximately 15,000 Australians with MS". The cost to the health care system is large. This is in part due to the complex aetiology of the disease. Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person and from time to time in the same person. They may include: extreme tiredness (fatigue), impaired vision, loss of balance and muscle coordination, slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, bladder and bowel problems, difficulty walking, short-term memory loss, mood swings and, in severe cases, partial or complete paralysis.
The overall cause of MS is still unknown.