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5th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show 2014

The Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center is hosting the 5th annual MS Center Art Show on August 9 & 10 from 10 am to 6 pm at the Seattle Center Armory.  The event is free and open to the public.  Please join us for this yearly celebration of art that is created by people living with MS and all others affected by this disease.
 
Art frees the spirit even when MS tries to limit it. The MS Center at Swedish hopes to acknowledge the lives and talents of everyone affected by MS.  The Art Show will feature over 80 pieces of art including painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and more. 
 
The purpose of the annual Swedish MS Center Art Show is to:

Statin Benefits Secondary Progressive MS

No treatments can currently abate the advanced stage of the disease, known as secondary progressive MS, which gradually causes patients to become more disabled. Statins are postulated to have immunomodulatory effects that appear to be independent of their effect on cholesterol. A benefit has been suggested in early multiple sclerosis (MS) based on reduction of magnetic resonance imaging brain lesions.  However, following trials have had inconsistent results.

In this multicenter, double-blind study, investigators randomized 140 participants with secondary progressive (SP) MS to 80 mg of simvastatin or placebo daily for 2 years. Participants were 18 to 65 years old, had active progression over the preceding 2 years, and had difficulties ambulating but were not wheelchair bound.  Whole brain atrophy was 43% slower annually in simvastatin recipients than in placebo recipients. The simvastatin group also had small clinical improvements over placebo on the disability scale and a patient-reported MS impact scale at 24 months.
 
These findings show that simvastatin reduced ...

Importance of planning pregnancies with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

A recent study addressed the outcomes of pregnancy in women with MS who were taking fingolimod (Gilenya). Of 66 pregnancies on the medication, 41 attempted to carry the pregnancy to term. 26 of the 41 had healthy newborns. There were, 9 miscarriages, 24 elective abortion, 4 ongoing pregnancies and 1 with an unknown outcome. Of the elective abortions, four were for fetal malformations. There were 5 cases with abnormal fetal development in the 66 pregnancies. Poor fetal outcomes were found in 14.6% of the pregnancies. This contrasts with a 3% rate of poor outcomes for most pregnancies.

This paper highlights the importance of care in planning pregnancies in MS. It is now known that women with MS have ...

Special team of volunteers at Swedish MS Center

 
On Thursday, April 10, 2014, Swedish hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Celebration dinner and awards ceremony at the Seattle Tennis Club.  The event was to acknowledge and give thanks to all the volunteers who generously donate their time, and energy, to making Swedish a people friendly place.  The event was attended by more than 220 Swedish volunteers.
 
Our very own Swedish MS Center registered nurse Kim Lozano, and Certified Pet Therapy Volunteer Kathy Knox, and her Certified Therapy Dog Ocho (yellow Labrador retriever) were honored as Swedish’s “Featured Volunteer Program: The Leo Project.”  Kim created The Leo Project, better known as the Leo Pet Therapy Program to enhance the services we offer our MS Center patients and their families.  The name “Leo” was selected to pay tribute to Kim’s beloved dog Leo who passed away at the age of 13. 
 
Kathy Knox and therapy dog Ocho deliver comfort and care to all people who pass through our MS Center’s walls.  Ocho ...

Insufficient evidence to support complementary and alternative therapies for multiple sclerosis

A guideline was recently published about the use of complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis (MS).

The guideline process involves identifying all of the scientific articles about potential therapies and evaluating them based on their scientific merits. The evaluation process follows a strict set of requirements related to the conduct of the research.

The review included a wide variety of complementary and alternative therapies that have been proposed for MS. Not surprisingly, most therapies did not have sufficient scientific data to determine whether or not they were effective. Some cannabinoid preparations (marijuana extracts) were shown to be effective, primarily for spasticity. This reflects a relatively large number of studies done with these compounds and the availability of a commercially available extract in some countries. A handful of therapies were shown to be ineffective. Most therapies had insufficient studies to determine their effectiveness.

The importance of this review is that it ...

National Stress Awareness Month-Managing stress with multiple sclerosis

April is National Stress Awareness Month so it seems appropriate to look at the impact of stress on people living with MS and to become more aware of what one can do to better manage one’s reaction to the inevitable stressors in life.
 
There is a growing body of research that suggests there is an association between stress and an increased risk of MS exacerbations and the development of new lesions in patients with MS.  A group of Dutch researchers followed 73 patients with RRMS and found that those patients who reported a major stressful event were 2.2 times more likely to have an MS exacerbation in the following four weeks.  In 2006, a group of U.S. researchers followed 36 people with MS and found that after experiencing a major life stress, those MS patients were 1.6 times more likely to develop a new lesion in the next eight weeks.2  The same group of researchers reported that the MS patients with good coping strategies could reduce this risk.
 
The exact mechanism by which stress increases the risk of MS exacerbations and the development of new brain lesions is not entirely clear, but what is known is that stress affects the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response, and in patients with MS and other autoimmune disorders, inflammation occurs when  ...

Physical fitness associated with improved cognition in multiple sclerosis

The benefits of exercise and being physically fit is what many people strive for.  However, a recent study added a new dimension to what exercise can do to enhance health.  In other words, exercise did more than keep a body fit.  It also made study participants think better.  You may ask, why is this new information important?  

 
Cognitive impairment is one of multiple scleroris (MS) ’s most disabling features and it can affect between 22% to 60% of people living with the disease.  Cognitive deficits may include problems with: slower information processing speed; memory impairment; difficulty with new learning and executive functioning.  Historically, medical and rehabilitation approaches to the problem have been inconsistent in improving cognition.
 
The new frontier of exercise for improved cognition provides hope. This study’s objective was to determine if there was an association between improvements in objective measures of physical fitness and performance on cognitive tests.
 
Participants were people with MS who participated in a telephone based health promotion intervention, chose to work on exercise, and who completed pre and post intervention assessments. Participants were then measured for strength, aerobic fitness, and cognition at baseline and 12 weeks later.
 
After controlling for variables such as age, gender, MS disease activity, MS type, etc. there was evidence suggesting that cognitive functioning changed over time based on level of fitness. Participants in the physically improved group showed improved performance on measures of executive functioning after 12 weeks of exercise.  The results of this study add support to the hypothesis that change in fitness is associated with improved executive functioning in people with MS. The desired outcomes are that improved cognition correlates with better quality of life, activities of daily living, vocational endeavors, and rehabilitation measures.
 
Where do we go from here? Since less is known about exercise training and cognition in MS (compared to studies demonstrating aerobic and strength training significantly improving cognitive functioning in older adults and people with mild cognitive impairment), we need more studies to examine this relationship in the MS population. 
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