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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that attacks the central nervous system eventually causing permanent damage. The symptoms often vary depending on the amount and location of the damage and can disappear for months at a time. Ultimately MS can cause permanent nerve damage.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disorder in which the immune system destroys the protective covering of the body's nerves interfering with communication between the brain and the body. The damage may interrupt or distort messages between the nerves and the brain producing variable symptoms. Multiple Sclerosis may occur at any age but most commonly begins in individuals between the ages of 20 and 40. The damage or deterioration of nerves caused by MS is irreversible and students with severe cases of multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk or speak. MS may impact vision in some cases but is not as common so it should be treated as co-morbid.

Observing Multiple Sclerosis in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following in students with Multiple Sclerosis:

  • May exhibit clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • May use a cane on some occasions but not others
  • May be absent in extreme weather conditions
  • May leave the classroom unexpectedly
  • May demonstrate muscle weakness and be unable to write without assistive technology


Related Functional Characteristics

Bodily Function Control : Students with MS may have bodily control difficulties due to nerve or muscle damage, muscle spasms, or medication side effects.

Climate Sensitivity : Students with MS are sensitive to extreme cold and heat as a result of their inability to regulate their body temperature.

Fatigue (Cognitive) : Students with MS have difficulty with cognitive fatigue as a result of the neurological basis of the condition.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students with MS may experience physical fatigue due to the neurological nature of the disease. Physical activity may induce fatigue requiring frequent rest breaks.

Motor Skill (Fine) : Students with MS may experience problems with fine motor skills due to nerve damage and muscle fatigue.

Motor Skill (Gross Lower) : Students with MS may experience muscle weakness especially during temperature extremes.

Motor Skill (Gross Upper) : Students with MS may have gross motor difficulties in their arms and upper bodies due to muscle weakness, loss of muscle control, pain, or muscle spasms.

Numbness : Students with MS may experience numbness due to the disruption of nerve impulses caused by destruction of the myelin sheath.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : As their condition progresses, some students with MS may need a personal attendant or home health aide.

Reach Restriction : Students with MS may use a wheelchair, cane or crutches.

Service Animal Needs : Students with MS may have a service animal to assist them with physical tasks.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.