MULTIPLE Sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.
In MS, the coating that protects your nerves is damaged. Myelin is the fatty protective coating that surrounds nerve fibres – a bit like the insulation on an electrical wire.
As well as protecting the fragile nerve fibres, myelin also allows messages to travel quickly along the nerves without being lost or interrupted.
For example, in the nerve cells that extend from the spinal cord to the muscles in your leg, the myelin coating allows messages to travel at up to 268 miles per hour.
In nerve cells without myelin, the speed the message travels can drop as low as one mile per hour.
In MS, immune cells enter the brain and spinal cord and attack both the myelin and the cells that make it.
When myelin becomes damaged, messages find it harder to get through – or can’t get through at all. That’s what causes the symptoms of MS.
Research is being undertaken to find out how to repair myelin.
Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help to manage the condition and its symptoms. Many people notice their first symptoms years before they get their diagnosis.
In Dorset today there are more than 1,300 people who have the condition, almost three times as many women as men. One in five new people diagnosed are aged under 30.
MS Dorset is a group of volunteers who offer a wide range of information advice and, where appropriate, grants to individuals who have MS.
Traditionally, the group has operated in the south of the county but it is now expanding to cover the whole of Dorset.
A spokesperson said: “We aim to start groups in the main towns and need volunteers to operate those groups.
“We have been fortunate to receive a grant from the county council to get people with disabilities and their carers out and about following lockdown.
“So if you have a disability and would like help to join an activity either individually, such as an evening class, or one of our shopping trips or other organised activity give our helpline a call on 07554 882 414.”