More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Lifeline brings help for MS sufferers

Red Cross sends out 300 alarm devices to Michigan patients

Wednesday, August 29, 2001
By Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News
During the last two decades, Linda Goff's multiple sclerosis has forced her to use a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair.
But the 51-year-old Mt. Clemens resident knows help is just a tap away. For the last six years, she has used a Lifeline alarm to call for help whenever she needed it.
The device is part of the Lifeline system which the American Red Cross Southeast Michigan Chapter is distributing to 300 people across the state with multiple sclerosis.
The condition afflicts the central nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord. Doctors do not know what causes multiple sclerosis, but do know that women are 50 percent more likely to develop it than men. There is no cure, but some treatments provide temporary relief.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is helping to select patients to receive the devices, which can be button-like, or feature a tube into which a person can lightly blow to call for help. Others require only slight head or body movements. Once activated, a signal goes out to a response center.
All Goff has to do is lightly tap a button affixed to a necklace she wears at all times.
"You never feel alone," she said. "You can even bathe with it. It's on all the time."
The Lifeline system is just one of the Red Cross services, according to spokesman Brian Lucas.
"We do a lot more than just blood," Lucas said. "We are really excited to supply the technology to a new group of people."
Along with safety, one of the reasons the Red Cross is handing out the Lifeline alarms is to help those with multiple sclerosis live in their homes and not in medical facilities.
"These special attachments ... will enable them to live with dignity and independence in their homes as long as possible," said Beatrice Bynum, a Red Cross official.
Goff is just happy that others are getting the same help that has allowed her to stay out of nursing homes.
"It's a super idea to hand them out," she said. "Mine has never failed me and I can count on it always being there."

You can reach Santiago Esparza at (810) 468-0520 or

Copyright 2001 The Detroit News.