June 5, 2004
A study of how multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms change over time has found that fewer than half of the patients studied developed worsening disability within 10 years. The findings were reported in the journal Neurology (2004; 62:51-59).
The study involved 162 living patients with MS and for many of these, disability was mild. Of 99 patients who were walking unassisted when examined in 1991, 71 retained that ability in 2001. Only about 20% of patients who did not require a wheelchair in 1991 needed one 10 years later. Survival was slightly reduced compared to the general population, however, and 30% of patients progressed to a more disabling MS state over the 10-year period.
The fact that most MS patients dont get progressively worse over 10 years is the really great news, says Moses Rodriguez, M.D., the neurologist who led the research team, which was from the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN, USA; www.mayo.edu).
Knowing how the symptoms of MS change over time provides good news for
patients newly diagnosed with MS, who may feel the disease leads to inevitable
and uniform decline in physical functioning.
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