Chronic, progressive demyelination of the neurons in the CNS. This leads to spastic and slow nerve impulses. This impairs movement and sensation and can cause issues with bowels, bladder, and vision. MS comes in cycles of remission and exacerbation.
The cause of MS is unknown, though suspected to have a genetic component. It primarily is diagnosed between the ages of 20-40 years old.
Optimize patients’ level of functioning while managing symptoms such as pain, incontinence, and difficulty swallowing.
Therapeutic management is mostly supportive. Analgesics can help with the aching joints, while muscle relaxants can calm some of the tremors and spastic muscles. Gabapentin is especially helpful.
As the disease progresses, patients will lose their independence. Encourage them to stay active as long as possible to keep up their strength.
Patients get fatigued easily, teach them to cluster their activities and provide frequent rest periods to conserve their energy for important tasks.
Bowel and bladder training includes planning to go to the bathroom at specific intervals. This helps to minimize and avoid incontinence episodes.
Due to incontinence and weakness, patients often choose not to drink much to try to avoid accidents. It’s very important that they get adequate fluid intake.
Decreased sensation for pain and temperatures means that MS patients are at risk for burns because they can’t feel how hot the water is. Turning the max temperature down can help to prevent this from happening.
Decreased sensation peripherally combined with weakness means that the patient’s response time will be diminished and their ability to catch themselves from falling is poor.
For more information, visit www.nursing.com/cornell
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