More MS news articles for January 1999

Disease can affect judgment and moods

By David R. Eltz

A disease said to afflict a city police officer involved in a fatal shooting can affect reasoning and judgment in some cases, according to a recent research report.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system, according to the Allegheny District Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The disease occurs when myelin - the soft, white, somewhat fatty material protecting the spinal cord - is stripped away. Lesions or patches of hardened tissue develop in the brain or on the spinal cord, blocking brain messages that allow a person to perform motor skills.

The slow-developing disease can inhibit speech, vision, strength and balance. It also can cause partial or complete paralysis. Symptoms can vary and may include short-term memory loss and mood swings.

In advanced cases, MS can cause problems with a person's reasoning and problem-solving abilities, according to an article by neuropsychologist Nicholas G. LaRocca, director of research at the MS Rehabilitation, Research and Training Center at St. Agnes Hospital, White Plains, N.Y.

The problems can include difficulty with analyzing a situation, identifying the important points, and planning a course of action and carrying it out.

Researchers have discovered that about half of the people with MS show no evidence of intellectual problems, about 40 percent have mild intellectual problems, and about 10 percent have moderate to severe impairments.

The cause of the disease is unknown. It is not contagious, but there is no known cure.

Several medicines can help lessen the frequency and severity of attacks and reduce the accumulation of lesions. Some even slow progression of disability.

In a civil complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, officer Jeffrey L. Cooperstein claims he has multiple sclerosis, and that the city has refused to "reasonably accommodate" his condition.

Cooperstein fatally shot Deron Grimmitt, 32, Dec. 21 on Second Avenue, Downtown, as the Hill District motorist was fleeing police.