Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Searching for a diagnosis” from May 14, 2018. Did you undergo evoked potential testing for your diagnosis? What was the experience like? Post your replies in the comments below or at the original forum entry.
The day I went in for evoked potential tests as part of my multiple sclerosis diagnostic protocol, I found the process mostly amusing, if only because I could appreciate the science behind the testing, and I enjoyed meeting other technologists who performed the kinds of tests that are similar to the work I did.
I work in the field of sleep medicine, where measuring electrical signals in the brain and body can help identify and diagnose medical conditions. Before I left my night job as a sleep technologist, thanks to MS, I would “hook up” patients for overnight sleep studies, then I’d collect recordings of their electrical signals to be scored and interpreted by a sleep physician.
But I must say that these nerve conduction studies were weird.
What exactly are evoked potential tests? And should a person with MS undergo them as part of their diagnosis protocol?
We’re all ‘on the grid’
The central nervous system (CNS) is the “electrical grid” between the brain and body. It delivers signals for millions of physical processes, from voluntary ones like eating to involuntary ones like the beating of your heart.
MS occurs when the CNS suffers damage from attacks by a dysregulated immune system. The result is both partial and complete demyelination, the damage done to the coating of these nerves.
When the grid goes down
A muscular activity like walking may result in clumsiness, muscle weakness, or a shift in balance due to demyelinated nerves.
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