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MS Research Update: Birth month may affect your risk for multiple sclerosis

There are many studies that show that the risks for getting multiple sclerosis (MS) vary according to the month a person is born. However, the differences between the months of birth are slight.

 

For example, a 2005 study of people with MS living in northern latitudes found that more people (9.1%) had a birthday in May and significantly less (8.5%) were born in November. The opposite pattern is seen in the southern hemisphere. Thus, worldwide there is a slight increase in MS risk in those born in the spring and a decrease in those born in the winter.

 

The cause of this has not been determined. Some ideas include differences in:

  • Vitamin intake during pregnancy (more folate in fresh vegetables in the spring, more vitamin D from sunlight in the summer)

  • Birth weight - Heavier babies born after summer and fall pregnancies
  • Exposure to viruses - More people experience viruses in spring and fall. This may affect the not only the viruses a baby is exposed to during pregnancy, but also after birth.

 

A recent article in JAMA Neurology describes ...

Employment Matters: New Workshop Series for Multiple Sclerosis

What do I tell my boss? Will I have to quit? How will I afford my future?

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can come with a lot of uncertainty and questions about the future. But it does not have to be career-ending. Learning about your employment options and planning ahead can help you make informed decisions about your career.

Beginning May 8, 2013, the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute will offer free workshops to help people navigate their employment options. Employment Matters is a monthly series  designed to prepare people with the knowledge to confidently approach challenges, build a career plan and strengthen their employment options.

Shaheen Virani, CRC, leads the Employment Matters workshops. Shaheen is a rehabilitation counselor who specializes in helping people with MS make plans and decisions to support their individual employment needs--whether it is to continue working, make a career change or apply for disability.

Here are a few Employment Matters topics coming up this spring (or click here for the full 2013 schedule):

MS Research Update: How reliable are biomarkers measured by multiple providers?

Mobility issues secondary to strength, balance, and walking problems affect up to 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Providers and therapists use a variety of scales and tools to measure the extent of these issues such as:

 

  • The Berg Balance Scale (BBS) is a measure of balance that uses a 14-item scale and is scored based upon the results 0-56.
  • The 6-minute walk (6MW) is a measure of walking endurance.
  • Handheld Dynamometry (HHD) is a way to quantify manual muscle strength testing.

 

There is a lot of emerging research about “MS biomarkers,” which are values that look for ways to predict how patients will do in the future. The above tests are “physical biomarkers” of patient performance that may be able to be used as measures of disease state and change over time.

 

Often patients and clinicians are left wondering how accurate the results of these tests are. For instance, if provider A performs a functional test on a patient, will provider B get the same results if administering the same test to the same patient?

Multiple Sclerosis Center Celebrates First Anniversary

One year ago today, the first patients visited the brand new Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute. The 11,700-square-foot facility was designed around the patient experience as part of the MS Center’s commitment to treating the whole person and addressing each patient’s individual emotional, psychological, social and physical needs in a supportive environment.

Since we opened our doors on April 9, 2012, we’ve hit a few new milestones:

  • More than 5,400 total patients, including 620 new faces, from around the world received care from our comprehensive treatment team in the last 12 months.

  • We welcomed three new providers: neurologist Peiqing Qian, M.D.; physical therapist Kim Kobata, PT; and neuro-psychiatrist Lina Fine, M.D., M.Phil.

  • We completed the Pigott Terrace. The 1,500-square-foot outdoor therapy terrace includes a one-of-a-kind system that enables patients to ...

Staying productive in the workplace with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

"But you're so young!" is a reaction a many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may hear when they talk about their diagnosis. There is a common misconception that MS is diagnosed older or appear much more disabled. However, most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, smack in the prime of her or his life and career.

MS symptoms may affect a person's ability to work and participate in an educational program more or less depending on the course of their disease. Many people wonder if they can keep working or they quit because of their MS limitations, causing financial stress.

There is a place in the workplace for people with MS and there are options to support you. Shaheen Virani is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor at the MS Center at Swedish. A vocational counselor can help people living with MS navigate their employment options, whether it is to continue working, make a career change or apply for disability.

Vocational services at the MS Center are free and can often be coordinated with other appointments on the same day. A counselor can support people with MS in many ways, including:

MS Roadshow coming April 26 to Skagit Valley

The MS Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute will present the MS Roadshow April 26 in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The MS Roadshow is a free, half-day educational workshop about living well with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Knowledge really is power when it comes to managing your health. For people living with MS, learning as much as possible about the disease makes it easier to make informed decisions about your care.

Whether newly diagnosed or looking for more information to help improve your health, the MS Roadshow offers a look at leading-edge research and tips for living a full life. Topics and speakers include:

New medication for MS, Tecfidera (BG-12), Approved by FDA

On March 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the newest treatment in the increasing number of disease modifying therapies (DMTs) available to treat multiple sclerosis. Tecfidera (BG-12) is an oral capsule to treat adults with relapsing forms of MS. Research participants at the MS Center at Swedish participated in clinical trials for Tecfidera.

 

The trials reported that people taking Tecfidera had fewer relapses and less frequent worsening of disability compared to people taking a placebo. There were also fewer and less-severe side effects with Tecfidera than other treatments.

 

The studies found that ...

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