On a Monday in July, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) gave Kathy, who loves to hike in the woods, a cooling vest that reduces heat stress — a common issue for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). On a Wednesday in October, the nonprofit funded an MRI for Sarah, another MS patient. And on a Friday in March, the MSAA paid for swimming lessons for Simone, who also has MS.
These three women feature prominently in a new inspirational video just in time for March, which is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. The 82-second public service announcement, “Changing Lives Monday to Sunday,” was financed by EMD Serono and Digitas Health New York, and asks the general public to donate generously to MSAA.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system that damages or destroys the protective covering (known as myelin) surrounding the nerves; it can also injure the nerves as well. According to a MSAA press release, the neurological condition affects 2.5 million people worldwide — mostly women — including more than 400,000 Americans. While there is no known cause for MS, nor any cure yet, community support is vital to improve the lives of patients and their families.
Among other things, the MSAA offers information about the benefits of swimming and aquatic exercise. It has also developed My MS Manager, a mobile phone app for those with the disease; recently, Health.com recognized it as one of the best MS apps of 2016.
March has been Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month ever since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared it so in 2015. As such, the MSAA encourages public officials as well as ordinary people to take part in activities and programs that raise awareness about the disease and those living with it. Also on the MSAA suggestion list: call a friend with MS, cook him or her dinner, or simply drop by for a quick hello. Loneliness is a major cause of depression among people with disabilities, including MS.
To learn more about the disease, read patient columnists like Teresa Wright-Johnson, an activist who writes for Multiple Sclerosis News Today — which also offers insight into the most recent advances in MS research and therapies.
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