MS Not as Disabling as Once Thought

Study finds most with the degenerative disease do not worsen over 10 years

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THURSDAY, Jan. 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Multiple sclerosis (MS) may not be as progressive or disabling as once believed, claims one of the most comprehensive study of how MS symptoms change over time.

Mayo Clinic researchers found that fewer than half of the 162 MS patients they studied developed worsening disability over 10 years. Of the 99 patients who were walking unassisted when first examined in 1991, 71 still had that ability in 2001. About 20 percent of the patients who did not require a wheelchair in 1991 needed a wheelchair 10 years later.

The study appears in the current issue of Neurology.

"The fact that most MS patients don't get progressively worse over 10 years is the really great news," research team leader Dr. Moses Rodriguez says in a prepared statement.

The finding that MS is not as progressively disabling as once believed runs counter to the common idea that MS is marked by a steady decline in motor function. This new information that, for many patients, MS-related disability remains mild is important for public health planners responsible for meeting the future needs of MS patients.

The study results also offer hope to newly diagnosed MS patients, who may have believed the disease leads to an inevitable and uniform decline in their physical functioning.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about MS.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Jan. 22, 2004

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