Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit
Measurement and Assessment of Disability

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The development of new strategies in the management of MS.

"Although many neurological illnesses are incurable none should be regarded as untreatable."

This comment, made by Lord Walton, highlights one of the most important and, until recently, perhaps most neglected aspects of the management of neurological illness. The last decade or so has, however, seen significant advances in research into the management of chronic disabling conditions like MS. There is growing recognition that a vital strategy in total healthcare for those with MS is the regular assessment of need and the setting of new management goals that take into account the changing nature of the person’s condition and abilities. Alongside this stands the need to understand more fully both the physical and emotional aspects of MS and their impact with the hope that while the primary cause of functional loss in MS - demyelination within the central nervous system- cannot yet be arrested, better strategies for the daily management of symptoms can and should be implemented.

The Bristol MS Research Unit carries out studies into the strength and endurance of muscle activity and their impact on daily functions like standing, walking, transferring, lifting and balance. Hand and arm function are also studied and the influence of muscle and sensory changes on dexterity, grip and daily activities are evaluated. Our aim is to achieve a better understanding of MS and to develop new methods for overcoming the problems associated with disability in MS to improve the quality of life for those with MS.

Researchers also carry out a range of assessments relating to general health, the health impact of MS and assessment of specific problems such as spasticity, ataxia, fatigue etc.