Federated Health Charities has recently added three new charities to its roster. One of these new charities is the MS Society of Canada.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease (when the immune system attacks tissues in the body) that affects the brain and spinal cord (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). It damages and inflames myelin, which is the protective covering of the nerves and is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). While slight damage results in the nerve impulses travelling with minor interruptions, significant damage or the replacement of myelin with scar tissue can result in nerve fibres being damaged (MS Society of Canada, n.d.).
The two most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are extreme fatigue and difficulty working (Pietrangelo, 2019). Other symptoms include lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment, and mood changes (MS Society of Canada, n.d.).
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed by a neurologist, who administers a full medical history and neurological assessment, along with additional tests to confirm a diagnosis (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). This additional testing includes MRIs, visual evoked potentials tests and blood tests (MS Society of Canada, n.d.).
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed most commonly in young adults between the ages of 20-49 but can be diagnosed in younger children or older adults (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). While its cause is currently unknown, studies are being funded by the MS Society of Canada to investigate this. These studies examine if certain risk factors, such as gender, age, family history and lifestyle habits, can impact one’s susceptibility to MS (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Statistics show some value to this, as it is 3 times more likely to occur in women than in men and more common in those with a northern European background (MS Society of Canada, n.d.).
Multiple sclerosis is divided into several basic categories. These are relapsing-remitting MS, progressive MS, and progressive relapsing MS (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is the most common form, affecting approximately 85% of those diagnosed with MS. It is seen through “unpredictable but clearly defined periods during which symptoms are apparent”, which are followed by periods of recovery known as “remission” (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Progressive MS occurs in a percentage of those with RRMS and is when they progress to a state where relapses and remissions no longer occur, but “symptoms may persist, and disability slowly and continually increases” (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Finally, progressive relapsing MS is seen in those who “experience steadily worsening disease from the beginning, but also experience relapses with or without recovery” (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Symptoms are manageable with medications, rehabilitation strategies, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise (Pietrangelo, 2019).
How the MS Society of Canada Helps
The MS Society of Canada provides many types of support and services for those with MS and their families, while also funding research through their previously mentioned research program. A few examples of their support and services include a search engine on their website to discover local MS services, a telephone helpline known as the MS Knowledge Network where reliable and quality MS information and support is provided, and a 1:1 Peer Support Program over the phone and internet for those living with MS or caregivers and loved ones (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). Since MS Society of Canada’s creation in 1948, they have invested over $190 million into research and have funded studies in areas including but not limited to imaging, diagnosis, and rehabilitation (MS Society of Canada, n.d.). The MS Society of Canada is a valuable charity that we at Federated Health Charities are so proud to partner with! Please donate now, and for more information visit https://mssociety.ca/.
Written by Faria Raisa Amin
MS Society of Canada. (n.d.). About the MS Society’s research program.
MS Society of Canada. (n.d.). Support & services. https://mssociety.ca/support-services
MS Society of Canada. (n.d.). What is MS? https://mssociety.ca/about-ms/what-is-ms
MS Society of Canada. (n.d.) Working with your MS healthcare team.
Pietrangelo, A. (2019). Understanding multiple sclerosis (MS).