I am delighted to write the blog over the Progressive MS session that was given at ECTRIMS 2013. Much emphasis has been given to the need for more research in the fields of progressive MS. The majority of MS patients fit into this broad category: primary progressive MS, secondary progressive MS, and progressive relapsing forms of the disease. During a session devoted to progressive MS, leaders in the field discussed several initiatives underway to address the challenges presented by these forms of the disease.
Rehabilitation is a mainstay and key to improving the lives of patients with progressive MS. Many patients describe their progression in terms of mobility decline, which is a major target of improvement in rehabilitation programs.
The first session was devoted to confusion surrounding the definition of “progression in MS.” We use MRI and physical examination changes as well as patient symptoms as a means to define progression. In the field of MS rehab, we use various physical test and scales as “rehab biomarkers” of progression (examples are the 6 min walk test, 25 ft timed walk, and the berg balance scale). There is still no specific defining terms of what constitutes progression of the disease.
There are various medication trials underway aimed at the progressive population. Many of these drugs are in trial for relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) and/or are already approved for RRMS and may hold promise for progressive MS. The Progressive MS Alliance is a newly formed international effort to connect resources and experts around the world to find the answers and develop the solutions to end progressive MS. There is a call for research abstracts that will be supported through this alliance. According to the MS Society, 85 separate presentations at ECTRIMS specifically referenced progressive MS. This shows how the MS community is trying to fill a need for treatment and research in this area of MS.