Multiple Sclerosis Services (MS Services) assists and supports people who have multiple sclerosis and those who care about them adjust to life with a chronic illness by providing emotional support, current information, and connection to needed community services.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is the most common disease affecting the functioning of the central nervous system. For reasons still not well understood, it appears that the immune system attacks the protective covering of the central nervous system called myelin. The resulting damage, referred to as a lesion, disrupts the flow of messages through the central nervous system causing symptoms. One of the unique characteristics of multiple sclerosis is that the lesions can heal causing a hardened area. This hardened area, referred to as “sclera” or scarring, can seal the damaged area so that the neurological messages can flow again, improving the symptoms. At some point new lesions or further damage in an old lesion may occur, starting the cycle over again. Over a period of time many scars can develop. Thus the name of the disease, multiple sclerosis, means “many scars”.
Multiple sclerosis is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 and affects approximately two to three times more women than men. It is a chronic, progressive illness causing a variety of symptoms which can include vision difficulty, walking problems, bladder and bowel dysfunction, neurological fatigue, and problems with cognitive functioning such as difficulty with memory and judgment. The lesion and scarring process causes an unpredictable coming and going pattern in the symptoms. Between flair-ups of symptoms, referred to as an exacerbation, there can be periods when the disease process stabilizes, which is referred to as a remission. Symptoms may vary from day to day in the same person and from one person to the next. Over a person’s lifetime the accumulation of damage to the central nervous system can result in increasing symptoms and disability.
History of Multiple Sclerosis Services
Multiple Sclerosis Services was founded in 1980 by a group of people who had multiple sclerosis, their families and concerned members of the community, who felt there was a need for a local organization with the purpose of assisting and supporting people with the many and complex challenges of life with multiple sclerosis. In 2008, the Multiple Sclerosis Service League decided to end operations as an independent organization and requested Exceptional Persons, Inc. of Waterloo, Iowa, assume delivery of services for persons with MS.