Although significant progress has been made in recent years in developing medication that slows the progression of multiple sclerosis, there has been little effort to treat the daily symptoms of the disease. The EU-funded MS Fatigue_Therapy project is doing just this, measuring fatigue and investigating potential treatments.
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With over 2.3 million diagnosed cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) across the world today, it is the most prevalent debilitating disease in young adults. It is most common in North America and Europe, with over 120 000 people suffering from MS in Germany alone.
MS is a chronic and progressive disease in which the bodys immune system responds abnormally to the central nervous system, damaging nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. A hardening of body tissue leads to symptoms such as numbness, speech impairment, loss of muscular coordination, blurred vision and severe fatigue.
Although substantial progress has been achieved in recent years in developing medication that can slow the development of the disease, the daily symptoms of MS largely go untreated. This has a negative impact on the quality of life for those suffering from MS.
Despite the wide variation in symptoms, as many as 80 % of sufferers identify chronic fatigue as a major problem. There is however no way to accurately measure or treat such fatigue in MS patients.
The EU-funded MS Fatigue_Therapy project is testing a method known as BAST to measure levels of fatigue and to assess the impact of hippotherapy (horse riding, which can improve coordination and strength) on their symptoms and quality of life. BAST (Movement Behaviour Analysis and Scales Test) assesses pre- and post-test vital signs such as the patients pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate and blood pressure.
MS Fatigue_Therapy will conduct BAST tests on 40 people with MS and compare their results with 40 neurotypical control tests, i.e. those not appearing on any neurological disorder spectrum. If this study proves successful and BAST is shown to reliably measure MS fatigue, the project will then develop a comprehensive testing and rating system for large-scale clinical use.