Multiple sclerosis - Definition

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Multiple sclerosis is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, composed of the brain and spinal cord, by destroying localized areas of myelin, the substance involved in nerve impulse communication. This condition is usually observed in young adults, manifesting as neurological symptoms, such as motor or sensory impairment, progressing in successive flare-ups that each time attack a new area of the body. In this context, brain or spinal MRI can reveal the white patches that are indicative of areas undergoing demyelination. The disease progresses to become functionally disabling, with walking difficulty eventually becoming impossible in later stages without a support, such as a wheelchair. Treatment can help reduce symptoms during flare-ups, and continual background treatment with interferon slows the disease progression to disability. Patient care in these cases requires physiotherapy to combat the disability, and occupational therapy to help the patient adapt his environment to his needs.