Author: Martha June Whitman
Published: Jul 22 2013
Multiple Sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the ability of the brain and spinal cord to communicate with the central nervous system. This can result in a wide range of physical, mental, and in some cases psychiatric problems. Over 2 million people suffer from multiple sclerosis with around 10% of those being children. The disease is not usually fatal as many do end up living a normal lifespan there is also no cure. Most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 but in rare cases children can develop the disease as young as 2 years old. Children who develop the disease young usually struggle to live as harmoniously as they desire and at times it can truly be a heartbreaking sight to see. Raising a child with multiple sclerosis is no easy task as there are many symptoms to constantly be prepared for. One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is different and may experience certain symptoms at varying levels. Here are the major symptoms of multiple sclerosis that must be monitored and treated periodically:
- Urinary and Bowel Incontinence
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Thinking problems (memory loss, trouble concentrating)
Raising a child with multiple sclerosis requires a great deal of patience and time devoted to care. But there are ways a child with the disease can live a happy and productive life, the key is helping them find hobbies and methods of recreation in which their condition can be kept under control. Here are ways to help a child with multiple sclerosis feel loved and to raise them like any other happy child:
As stated above, everyone is different in how they experience the symptoms. Always have appropriate medications on hand. If incontinence is commonly experienced symptom, consider having the child wear incontinence underwear or poise pads. Never let the child go anywhere alone, especially if they are susceptible to more cognitive difficulties. In time they may learn to manage their condition as modern breakthroughs in medicine have made possible but until they have firm grip and understanding on their own condition make sure they are supervised by a loved one.
A balanced, low-fat diet high in fiber is the best way to promote healthy bowel and bladder function and can make symptoms of incontinence easier to keep under control. There has been some evidence that suggests a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help find the inflammation and serve as a healthy treatment to the disease so have them eat a good amount of salmon or healthy seafood.
Physical activity relieves stress, makes kids happy, and can actually help manage symptoms of multiple sclerosis such as fatigue and muscle weakness. Simple stretching exercises can increase flexibility, increase mobility, relieve stiffness of the joints. You’d be surprised how many people with multiple sclerosis become avid yoga practitioners when they are older.
Do everything you can to make life as comfortable and safe as possible for them at home. Loss of balance and blurred vision are not symptoms to take lightly. Make sure the child has easy access to appropriate rooms throughout the house. Do your best to make sure there are no major path-obstructing objects. A more rare but known symptom of multiple sclerosis is numbness in the arm or leg and this can definitely trigger a fall if a child is excited and running around. Do your best to make sure there are no protruding objects they can fall on and severely hurt themselves.
The one thing this disease does not seem to have tremendous effect on is the intellect and imagination of the child. Reading consistently can help exercise the brain and promote effective processing of memories. The imagination at times can be the child’s greatest coping mechanism. It can also serve as a gateway to a possible career in entertainment. Many famous people such as Richard Pryor, Clay Walker, and Montel Williams lived with multiple sclerosis.
Martha June Whitman is a health writer and retired assisted living care provider who enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with various health afflictions. She writes for National Incontinence, a leading supplier of protective underwear and tranquility briefs.
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