MSAA Events Focus on Mind-Body Connection to Mark MS Awareness Month

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by Mary Chapman |

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health-related quality of life

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is offering a host of educational activities on wellness strategies that address both the mind and body in its efforts to mark Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.

Each year, a month is set aside to heighten awareness of multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurodegenerative disease that affects nearly one million U.S. residents.

The campaign theme this year is “The Mind, Body, and MS Connection,” which emphasizes the integration of physical and emotional care in improving MS symptom management and overall quality of life.

MS patients experience many symptoms, including fatigue, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms, walking difficulties, pain, and bowel or bladder problems. Many also experience emotional changes such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

For the month, free MSAA events include webinars, which will be archived and may be viewed later. An upcoming webinar, titled “Keeping it Simple: Everyday Mindfulness for People Living with MS,” is scheduled for March 24, 7–8 p.m. EST. Cheryl Young, a marriage and family therapist at the Louisville Mindfulness Center, will talk about the benefits of mindfulness techniques in managing stress, anxiety, irritability, and fear.

In addition, as part of its Ask the Expert series, the My MSAA Community online platform will feature a live discussion about “Diet, Nutrition and Other Wellness Trends in MS,” on March 16, 6–7 p.m. EST. It will be hosted by Carrie Hersh, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, from the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Visit this site for a transcript of a recent “Wellness and Healthy Living with MS” conversation with Annette Okai, MD, medical director of the Baylor Scott & White Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center in Dallas.

Patients and caregivers are encouraged to join My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online forum, and share their own stories this month.

MSAA podcasts, which may be listened to on demand, include “A Little is a Lot When Exercising with MS.” The episode features physical therapist Brian Hutchinson of the Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center. He discusses how physical activity can benefit the mind and body, and offers easy but effective exercise options for all patients.

In another podcast, “Better Symptom Management through Wellness,” MS experts Mary Rensel, MD, and psychologist Amy Sullivan, both at the Cleveland Clinic, will talk about brain health, and offer ways to enhance MS care through nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and overall healthy living. Sign up here to be notified when the podcast is available.

The MSAA also asks supporters to mark the month by reading new MS Conversations blog posts. Topics include “Cultivating Emotional Wellness,” and “Caring for Your Mind and Mental Health.”

In addition, the organization is spotlighting MS Ability Art Showcase 2020, which features the work of artists throughout the United States who are affected by MS. Craig Sutherland of San Jose, California, is the latest Artist of the Month. He was diagnosed three years ago with primary progressive MS.

“[MS] has taken the use of my right side,” Sutherland wrote on a Showcase webpage. “I’m training my left hand to do all the chores previously done with my right. I picked up painting when I could no longer use my power tools to build guitars.”

To learn more about MS Awareness Month and MSAA activities, visit this site. Awareness month events are sponsored by Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Genentech.