Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult to diagnose and can affect a person in various ways whether it is blurry vision or physical pain. Leorah Freeman, MD, from UT Health Austin’s Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center spoke with KXAN about Multiple Sclerosis and a new movement program she developed for MS patients right here in Austin.
Why is MS so hard to diagnose?
MS is not a rare disease but it affects people very differently. At the root of the disease, it is an autoimmune attack on the central nervous system, which damages the nerve coatings and disrupts nerve conduction. But, depending on where the damage occurs, the symptoms can be vastly different. People can experience blurry vision, pain, imbalance, weakness. Sometimes the symptoms individuals experience may be less physical such as crushing fatigue or difficulty with cognition, which are extremely hard to diagnose.
What are symptoms which may indicate MS?
Individuals should be aware of any kind of symptoms that are a change from their past level of function. Whether they are having some weakness that does not subside, some stiffness in a limb, or an imbalance where they cannot coordinate or control their movements. Blurry vision is also an important symptom, which is also associated with eye pain. Dr. Freeman states, “… the key is that if you experience anything that is out of the ordinary, that you seek medical care, because we can provide treatment for MS.”
Moving Stronger Program with the MS Society and YMCA
Doctors know that people with MS who engage in physical activity regularly have the best outcomes. Dr. Freeman connected with the Town Lake YMCA and MS Society to create the Moving Stronger Program which provides people with MS, of all ability levels, a safe space to exercise and a supportive community. During the 12-week free program, participants meet twice a week rotating different forms of exercise, such as yoga, aquatics, strength training and functional training. Functional training helps participants specifically target the different symptoms of MS. The Moving Stronger program was piloted in Houston and is now available at Town Lake YMCA in Austin. Dr. Freeman says they have seen incredible results and that she hopes to grow the program in the future.