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MS Support Group Starts At Penn Highlands Healthcare

Multiple sclerosis, MS, is not a disease that the US government has statistics on. There are only estimates as to how many people suffer from it because it is diagnosed based on symptoms.

For those that have it, however, it is very front and center in their lives.

That is why Penn Highlands Healthcare is forming the MS Support Group. It will meet at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month in St. Camillus Hall on the first floor of Penn Highlands DuBois West.

The first meeting will be held this coming month at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 23.

Who should attend? “People diagnosed with multiple sclerosis or suffering symptoms without a definitive diagnosis, yet. And also friends and family members of someone with MS or caregivers,” said Lisa London of Punxsutawney. She is the volunteer group leader for the group under the direction of Dr. Oksana Palatna of Penn Highlands Neurology.

“Our goal is to support not only patients, but the family and friends who may need a better understanding of what their loved one is going through,” London said. “The ultimate goal of this support group is to give individuals with similar problems an outlet to discuss what they are experiencing and draw from the knowledge of others who have been through it, too.”

“Our group is hoping to have speakers and presentations to make living with MS as comfortable as possible and to help us with a better quality of life,” she said. The first speaker will be Palatna.

“I feel this group is needed because MS seems to be very rampant in our area, affecting all walks of life. MS does not discriminate!” London said.

Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is a nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks messages between the brain and body, leading to the symptoms of MS. They can include:
• Visual disturbances;
• Muscle weakness;
• Trouble with coordination and balance;
• Sensations such as numbness, prickling or "pins and needles;"
• Thinking and memory problems.

No one knows what causes MS. It may be an autoimmune disease, which happens when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.

Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men. It often begins between the ages of 20-40. Usually, the disease is mild, but some people lose the ability to write, speak or walk.

For more information about the MS Support Group, contact London at 814-939-9415.