MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: DMTs and Symptoms, Aquatic Exercise, Infections

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by Ed Tobias |

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‘Hidden’ Disabilities Fairly Common at RRMS Diagnosis, Study Finds

This headline doesn’t report the full nature of this story. In addition to being “fairly common,” the research concludes that disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) have little effect on these so-called “hidden disabilities.” 

I don’t agree with that conclusion. Most of the patients in this study were using low-efficacy DMTs such as Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate, 148 patients), Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, 52 patients), and interferon therapies (29 patients). These treatments are primarily designed to reduce exacerbations, rather than reduce or limit symptoms. But higher efficacy DMTs are reported to improve some symptoms in addition to limiting disease progression.

In my case, and from what I’ve heard from hundreds of people with MS over the years, “hidden disabilities” such as fatigue and cognitive difficulties can be helped by the newer, more powerful DMTs, such as Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and Ocrevus (ocrelizumab).

Many people newly diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) experience substantial “hidden disabilities,” such as depression or fatigue, a study highlights.

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Findings indicate that treatment with disease-modifying therapies generally does not affect the severity of these problems, at least in the short term.

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.


Low-impact Aquatic Exercise a Good Alternative, But Access Is a Barrier

I love to swim. It helps my upper-body strength and core muscles. Walking in the pool also helps my core, although recently, my leg spasticity has been increasing, and I can’t do it as much, or as well, as I once could. And exercising in the water helps keep me cool.

The study is correct that access to a swimming pool can be a problem for practicing aquatic exercise. I’m fortunate that I have pools in the communities where I live, but for some, no water is nearby, and if it is, access may be costly. Wouldn’t it be nice if a pool membership could be covered by health insurance?

Aquatic exercise is used less often by people with multiple sclerosis (MS) than land-based exercise, but it’s generally well liked by those who use it, a patient survey found.

A lack of pool access and associated expenses remain significant barriers to aquatic exercise. The team also found that exercise use declined significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.


Progressive MS, Degree of Disability Increase Infection Risk

This study confirms what many of us with MS already know. We can be at increased risk of serious infections, even if we haven’t been treated with a medication that suppresses our immune system.

That seems pretty logical. For example, a lot of us are prone to bladder inflections due to our spastic bladders. The more our illness progresses, the more likely these can become. If our mobility is significantly reduced, we’re open to bedsores or other infections of the bedridden.

What seems to be new in this study is that these infections seem to happen whether or not we’re being treated with an immune-suppressing therapy. That’s what’s interesting to me.

People with progressive forms of multiple sclerosis and those with greater MS-related disability have a significantly greater risk of serious infections relative to people without the disease, according to a population-based study in Sweden.

Notably, these associations were observed regardless of the use of disease-modifying therapies, many of which work by suppressing the immune system and thereby increase the risk of infections.

Click here or on the headline to read the full story.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Kathy Ball avatar

Kathy Ball

Hello Mr. Tobias,

In one of your articles from the recent past, you wrote about a cruise you had taken. You mentioned about a lightweight scooter you took. Could you share the model and/or brand of the scooter? I would love to look it up to see if it would accommodate my needs and ability to get around. Thanks so much for your insightful articles.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Kathy,

I've used a TravelScoot for over a decade. It's 35 pounds including the battery, a lithium-ion that easily lasts all day. The scooter folds up like a baby stroller and, when not in the back of my car, I've had it on trains, boats and planes. It's been in a gondola in Italy and has wheeled over the centuries old roads of Ephesus, Turkey. Not that it can be a little unstable, and its throttle is only controlled on one side of the handlebars. It's only available online at Let me know if you have more questions.

Hope this helps and I'm glad you like what I write,


Jerry Cornwell avatar

Jerry Cornwell

I have a light weight scooter also called "Travelscoot". Information at Over time (I've had it for over 10 years) I've traveled completely around the world! I've taken it on airplanes, on cruise ships, and automobiles. I wouldn't have been able to go nearly as much or far without it! You owe it to yourself to give Travelscoot a try!

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Me too!!


Anthony Hoysted avatar

Anthony Hoysted

Thanks for that information, Ed. I am looking for a lightweight mobility scooter that can be easily put in the back of a car, and the Travelscoot seems to be the most suitable to my needs of those I have seen so far.


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