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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demelinating disease of the central nervous system. Myelin is a fatty material that insulates nerves, acting much like the covering of an electric wire and allowing the nerve to transmit its impulses rapidly. It is the speed and efficiency with which these impulses are conducted that permits smooth, rapid and co-ordinated movements to be performed with little conscious effort. In MS, the loss of myelin (demyelination) is accompanied by a disruption in the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain and this produces various symptoms. The sites where myelin is lost (plaques or lesions) appear as hardened (scar) areas: in MS these scars appear at different times and in different areas of the brain and spinal cord - the term multiple sclerosis meaning, literally, many scars. In almost all lesions, a variable but usually substantial axonal loss occurs additionally to the loss of myelin. Axonal loss is an important factor in MS because, unlike demyelination, symptoms will not be affected by efforts to improve conduction (Herndon in Burks & Johnson, 2000).


The information contained in this page are taken from the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation web site: www.msif.org

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