Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common disease of the central nervous system for young adults, affecting 18,000 ordinary Australians, and more than 2,000 Western Australians.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia (Inc.) is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and care to the thousands of Western Australians living with MS, as well as people living with other neurological conditions.
FACT: There is no known cause or cure.
FACT: MS is the most common chronic neurological disease affecting young Australian adults.
FACT: Three out of four people with MS are diagnosed before they reach age 35.
FACT: Three times as many women as men are diagnosed with MS.
FACT: On average, 16 people are diagnosed with MS every month in Western Australia.
For more information about the MS Society of WA, please telephone 9365 4888 or visit W: mswa.org.au
What is MS?
MS stands for multiple sclerosis. Sclerosis is a Greek word meaning scars, and multiple means many, so an easy way to remember it is that MS also means ‘many scars’.
MS affects the brain and spinal cord, which is called the Central Nervous System. Your brain sends messages to your body telling it what to do, just like a computer. Messages travel from the brain down the spinal cord and nerves to all the different parts of your body. In people who have MS, the messages get interrupted by small scars on the myelin, which coats the nerve fibres.
This means that the messages trying to get to different parts of the body might not go through properly. So putting on your shoes, walking to the shop, or even balancing, can be more difficult for people with MS.
There are different types of MS. Some people can experience symptoms but then get better. This is called relapsing/remitting MS.
Some people experience symptoms that keep getting worse. This is called progressive MS.
What happens to people who have MS?
There are lots of different things that can happen to people who have MS. Not everyone with MS will get the same symptoms and they can come and go. This is part of the mystery of MS.
Some of the different types of symptoms can include:
- Feeling very tired
- Having trouble walking
- Losing your balance
- Blurred vision
- Feeling pins and needles
- Weak arms and legs
- Shaky hands
- Speech difficulties
Who gets MS?
Places closer to the equator have fewer cases of MS. Three times as many women as men get MS, and most people who are diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 40.
The closer places to the equator have fewer cases of MS. Tasmania, being the furthest Australian state from the equator, has the highest percentage of people with MS in Australia.
Is there a cure?
Sadly, there is no cure yet. Scientists and doctors are working very hard to find one.
The good news is that there are now some medicines available that can help people who are living with MS.
Can I catch MS?
No. MS is not catching or contagious.
Why is it important to know about MS?
There is no cure for MS, and there are more than 2,000 Western Australians living with MS. Every month in WA, around 16 more people are told they have MS.
Young adults (between 20 – 40 years of age) are the people most likely to get MS. This is often when they are trying to build a career, have a family, or just enjoy living their lives fully. The cost of MS and the emotional pain affects a lot of people – not just the person with MS, but also their family, friends and carers.
What does the MS Society of Western Australia do?
The MS Society is here to support Western Australians living with MS and other neurological conditions, through three main areas:
- Providing high-support accommodation and respite care for people living with MS
- Providing support services, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, massage, counselling, and nursing care, for people living with MS
- Funding research to find the cause and a cure for MS
What can I do to help people with MS?
The money you raise when you take part in the Premier’s Summer Reading Challenge (in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia) goes to help Western Australians living with MS. So when you read and fundraise as much as you can, it is a big help.
There are also other ways you and your family can help the MS Society of Western Australia to make a difference.
- Get your friends to join the Premier’s Summer Reading Challenge (in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia).
- Learn the facts about MS and share them with everyone you know, so that more people know about MS
- Meet someone with MS and learn their story, to get a better idea of what it is really like to live with MS
- Volunteer for your local MS Society – we always need lots of enthusiastic people to help us with events and the work we do
- Attend other MS Society fundraising events