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MS research update - Teenagers with MS - 02 February 2012

Being a teenager is often a time when being part of a group is very important. Many teenagers spend a lot of time with friends who do the same activities and have the same outlook as they do. Being different in some way can be difficult. This study looked at the consequences of being a teenager with MS.

31 teenagers with MS, with an average age of 16, and 31 controls took part in the study in Canada. The average age of starting MS symptoms was between eleven and twelve.

Each teenager and one of their parents separately completed a questionnaire to investigate how the teenager was functioning emotionally and any problem behaviours at home or in the community. The teenagers also completed a questionnaire to determine their personality.

All the teenagers had an MRI scan and took tests of cognitive abilities such as memory and attention span.

The parents of children with MS reported that the teenagers had more symptoms of depression and somatisation (a tendency to experience physical symptoms in response to psychological or social stress). They also had poorer daily living skills which are important for living, working and playing successfully. The teenagers themselves reported more problems with lack of attention or hyperactivity and being less self reliant.

Concerns about behaviour and lack of skills important for daily living were associated with fatigue, poor relations with parents and feelings of social stress. They were not related to the number of relapses experienced, how long they had been diagnosed with MS, the severity of their MS as seen on an MRI scan, their EDSS score or their IQ level.

The researchers concluded that teenagers with MS are vulnerable to developing behavioural and emotional difficulties. A good relationship with their parents was an important factor in ensuring emotional well being. Consequently, it may be important to deliver family centred care for this group of people with MS.

Till C, Udler E, Ghassemi R, et al.
Factors associated with emotional and behavioral outcomes in adolescents with multiple sclerosis.
Mult Scler. 2012 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]

A more sensitive way to detect balance and walking difficulties

Timing how long it takes someone with MS to walk a short distance, perhaps 25 feet, is a standard test in many clinics. However, it is difficult to tell who is going to develop problems with their mobility and so offer help and advice at an early stage if walking speed is normal in this test.

This study used motion sensors worn on the body to see if they could detect difficulties with balance and walking in people with MS whose walking speed was normal. 31 people with MS and 28 controls took part.

It was found that, when standing still with eyes closed, people with MS swayed more. When walking their trunk also swayed more and they took longer to turn round at the end of the walk. This was despite the fact that their walking speed was normal.

The researchers suggest that motion sensors are an easy way to detect mobility problems at an earlier stage than is possible with the timed walk test.

Spain RI, St George RJ, Salarian A, et al.
Body-worn motion sensors detect balance and gait deficits in people with multiple sclerosis who have normal walking speed.
Gait Posture. 2012 Jan 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Research by topic areas...

Disease modifying treatments

Fernández O, Oreja-Guevara C, Arroyo R, et al.
Natalizumab treatment of multiple sclerosis in Spain: results of an extensive observational study.
J Neurol. 2012 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Río J, Tintoré M, Sastre-Garriga J, et al.
Change in the clinical activity of multiple sclerosis after treatment switch for suboptimal response.
Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jan 31. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03648.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Qizilbash N, Mendez I, Sanchez-de la Rosa R, et al.
Benefit-risk analysis of glatiramer acetate for relapsing-remitting and clinically isolated syndrome multiple sclerosis.
Clin Ther. 2012 Jan;34(1):159-176.e5.

Fox RJ, Rudick RA.
Risk stratification and patient counseling for natalizumab in multiple sclerosis.
Neurology. 2012 Jan 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Pelletier D, Hafler DA.
Fingolimod for multiple sclerosis.
N Engl J Med. 2012 Jan 26;366(4):339-47.

Co-existing conditions

Christensen S, Farkas DK, Pedersen L, et al.
Multiple sclerosis and risk of venous thromboembolism: a population-based cohort study
Neuroepidemiology. 2012 Jan 27;38(2):76-83. [Epub ahead of print]

Quality of life

Baumstarck K, Pelletier J, Aghababian V, et al.
Is the concept of quality of life relevant for multiple sclerosis patients with cognitive impairment? Preliminary results of a cross-sectional study.
PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30627.

Causes of MS

Simon KC, O'Reilly EJ, Munger KL, et al.
Epstein-Barr virus neutralizing antibody levels and risk of multiple sclerosis.
Mult Scler. 2012 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Psychological aspects

Hawellek DJ, Hipp JF, Lewis CM, et al.
Increased functional connectivity indicates the severity of cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 22;108(47):19066-71.


Tátrai E, Simó M, Iljicsov A, et al.
In vivo evaluation of retinal neurodegeneration in patients with multiple sclerosis.
PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30922.

Villoslada P, Cuneo A, Gelfand J, et al.
Color vision is strongly associated with retinal thinning in multiple sclerosis.
Mult Scler. 2012 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Bock M, Brandt AU, Kuchenbecker J, et al.
Impairment of contrast visual acuity as a functional correlate of retinal nerve fibre layer thinning and total macular volume reduction in multiple sclerosis.
Br J Ophthalmol. 2012 Jan;96(1):62-7.


Bunyan RF, Tang J, Weinshenker B.
Acute demyelinating disorders: emergencies and management.
Neurol Clin. 2012 Feb;30(1):285-307.

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