Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common neurological disorder diagnosed in young adults. Many experts estimate that 2.5 million people worldwide have MS. The number of people diagnosed with MS in the United States was previously estimated more than a decade ago at 400,000. However, without a comprehensive, national registry, this figure cannot be confirmed and more research is needed. MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, affecting the protective covering (myelin) that surrounds the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. The nerves (axons) may also become damaged. MS is not contagious and researchers continue to seek a cause and a cure.
Individuals with MS may experience one or more of a variety of symptoms, such as visual changes, fatigue, numbness, bladder and bowel problems, depression, cognitive issues, and changes in mobility. However, with the availability of new treatments, many are experiencing fewer and less-severe symptoms. Initially, most individuals with MS experience periods of symptom flare-ups (exacerbations), followed by periods of remission. A smaller population of individuals has a progressive form of MS, characterized by a slow but steady accumulation of symptoms. As of November 2016, 14 disease-modifying therapies have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the long-term treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Many additional drug therapies are in development, including some aimed at treating progressive forms of MS.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) was founded in 1970 and is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free, ongoing support and direct services to individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners. Overseeing MSAA’s activities is a national Board of Directors comprised of accomplished professionals from across the country, volunteering their time for MSAA. Providing medical consultation is MSAA’s Chief Medical Consultant who reviews all of MSAA’s medical information, and MSAA’s Healthcare Advisory Council, comprised of top healthcare professionals who volunteer their time to MSAA. MSAA meets all criteria of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance and is in the exclusive group of national charities awarded the BBB Accredited Charity Seal. We also qualify as a High Performing Charity with America’s Charities and achieved Gold Level status with GuideStar.
For more information on MS and MSAA, please visit our website at mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667. For information on how to support MSAA and its mission, please refer to the latter section of this booklet.