Multiple Sclerosis (literally translated as many scarring) is typically diagnosed in the 20’s and 30’s age group, a time when the future should be bright, careers being developed and young families being raised. It is the most common disease of the central nervous system, affecting 1 in 1,000 people in the UK and it can be very disabling.
Because MS damages the nerves, any part of the body may be affected in a series of apparently random attacks. Physical symptoms may include tingling and pins and needles, double or blurred vision, fatigue and dizziness. There may also be loss of co-ordination of movement leading to staggering and clumsiness, slurred speech and an inability to perform fine movements such as doing up buttons and tying shoe laces. Legs may suddenly go into spasm, which can be very painful, and walking may become difficult or even impossible. At times constipation and incontinence may be problems. The severity and incidence of these symptoms vary not only from person to person, but also from day to day. It is this unpredictability, as well as the difficulty of coming to terms with a progressive illness, which can lead to emotional problems.
The disease is usually characterised by acute attacks followed by periods of remission, although each attack tends to leave some residual problems. A few people have a more continuously progressive form of MS and may not experience remissions.
In 1983, a group of local Multiple Sclerosis sufferers decided they wanted to provide help, support and therapy for MS sufferers in Coventry and Warwickshire. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, now more commonly known as high dosage oxygen therapy, was new at the time and the necessary large chamber meant renting suitable premises. They raised the money to buy a chamber and rent a building. More therapies were needed to help people with MS and their families cope with this debilitating condition, so the Centre developed rapidly.
In 1997 we were fortunate enough to receive a lottery grant to allow us to move to larger premises. Since then we have increased the number of therapies on offer to meet our members’ needs. Membership of Mercia MS Therapy Centre is just £15 per year, which entitles the member to highly subsidised therapies and our monthly newsletter. We provide a comfortable and friendly environment for members, their families and friends, to relax and exchange ideas about the day to day problems associated with MS. The atmosphere at the centre helps to break down the feelings of isolation and helplessness often associated with this illness.