MS Good News Report: The Latest Research Through August 2020

Research news with a positive angle.


Survey says it’s okay to ask for workplace accommodations when you have MS

Seventy people polled by the National MS Society (NMSS) reported a “stable or improved work situation over three years” after they sought at least one workplace accommodation, according to research reviewed at the NMSS website.1,2

The accommodations most requested included flex time, written job instructions, work-from-home options, and tools to improve memory.

More on this topic

Not only is asking for assistance okay, but doing so may prevent DES, or deteriorating employment status, which can discourage even the most conscientious people with MS, who seek to work in spite of their illness.


A wider personal support social network may help people with MS

People may, from time to time, wonder if their social network activity is worth the time invested. A new study is optimistic, finding that the wider the network, the lower the chances of developing physical disability for people with MS.3

Close-knit groups

The study looked at two different kinds of support groups, specifically at how “close-knit” they were. They defined “close-knit” as referring to small groups of people they knew personally, such as family and friends.

Larger groups of acquaintances

By default, they defined those networks which weren’t “close-knit” as “large clusters of loosely connected acquaintances.” This wider group of people may include those one only knows through support groups. These can be both live meetups or online, such as Facebook groups or patient advocacy forums.

The scientists found that people with MS who maintained contact with these larger networks of people enjoyed a broader “flow of novel information” about MS than their close-knit peers. They may also achieve greater access to a wider range of different resources that might help them with symptoms and beneficial therapies.

If online social media brings you down, no worries. You can join live support groups to connect you with peers safely through widely available digital teleconferencing options.


Special Needs Group fundraiser donates 10 percent of cushion sales to MS Focus

The Soothie° Cushion is a “thermapeutic” product designed to provide hot or cold back support for people who use wheelchairs. The Seattle-based Special Needs Group, which sells and rents equipment for people in need of special needs equipment, promises to donate 10 percent of their sales of Soothie° Cushions to MS Focus: Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in a new, ongoing initiative.

If you’re in the market for a Soothie° Cushion, you can order one by visiting their website, or calling 800.513.4515, using the code “MSFocus.” If you have questions about the arrangement, you may contact MS Focus director of philanthropy Traci Shur at 786.213.0003 or tracishur@msfocus.org.4


Wearable technology for people with MS

Multiple Sclerosis Journal recently ran a scoping review of nearly three dozen wearable technology products intended for use by people with MS. The review, dubbed PRISMA-ScR, summarized these products.5

The products they examined were identified as potentially useful in MS clinical trials. Subjects for future study using these wearables include measuring different aspects of the disease, such as:

  • Gait
  • Cognition
  • Upper limb function
  • Activity
  • Mood
  • Fatigue

Most of the wearables coordinate with smartphone applications.

In the final analysis, the researchers concluded that “we can expect to see newer solutions focusing on other areas with technology advancements that allow for more upper body and cognitive measures.”5

Meanwhile, they found “a dearth of validated solutions available for fatigue, mood, and pain.”5

Still, they remain optimistic: “The future of wearable technology in MS …looks promising with the potential to become a primary, co-primary or adjunctive monitoring tool in research and clinical practice.”5


MS drug research updates, in brief

From the pharmaceuticals file:6-9

  • August 25: FDA approves generic version of Tecfidera
  • August 17: New drug approved for MS cousin, neuromyelitis optica
  • August 6: The leukemia drug, ofatumumab, was found to lower the relapse rate in people with MS
  • August 6: Rituxan (rituximab) earns high scores for long-term treatment

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