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Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, part one

In California and across the country, people and organizations are recognizing Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week in a variety of ways, from orange billboards in New York to orange buildings in Utah. Because MS remains a relatively mysterious and misunderstood disorder, disability experts say that it is important to spread awareness about the disease.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder that damages the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the central nervous system. The disease's course begins when the body begins to attack myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects nerve fibers throughout the central nervous system. That damaged myelin forms scar tissue, or sclerosis, which interrupts or blocks nerve impulses traveling between the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve.

Although the symptoms of MS vary based on the severity of the diagnosis, there are several that are common among all who suffer from the disease. These range from mild symptoms such as loss of feeling in the limbs and extremities to complete paralysis, loss of vision, and others. Unfortunately, there is still a lot about the disease that is still unknown to members of the medical and scientific community, making the disease difficult to treat.

In addition, scientists have not yet been able to determine the cause of MS. It is believed that several factors may work in combination to cause the disease, and additional research is currently being executed in the areas of epidemiology, which documents patterns of disease throughout the population, immunology, or a closer look at the body's immune system, and genetics.

We will continue our discussion of MS later this week with a look at the specific types of the disease.

Source: Medical News Today, "Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, What Does It Mean To You? ", Sy Kraft, 14 March 2011

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