Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis – The Facts

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has a considerable impact on quality of life of patients and may induce a depressive syndrome that is expressed most often by instability, worry, discouragement, or restlessness.

Quality of life encompasses three main areas: physical, psychological and social. These three areas are strongly interlinked, social integration is often dependent on the physical and psychological impact of the disease.

Multiple sclerosis affects life at all levels: family, social relations, emotional life, professional life, hobbies and financial equilibrium. The changing nature and unpredictability of the disease hinders many patients in the realization of a life oriented to the future. It appears that, when given the right tools, people with MS manage to make a place for the disease in their life and to live a meaningful life with the support of their loved ones.

Multiple sclerosis is a major cause of neurological disability in young adults and often leads to a loss of employment a few years after diagnosis, the average age of life where work is often considered not only necessary to provide for his needs, but also a powerful factor of social integration. The disease appears, moreover, to be a barrier to access to promotion or training.

The rate of absenteeism caused by MS is on average 30 days per year and only slightly higher than for general diseases. Multiple sclerosis patients do not have a greater risk of accidents at work. The two major factors that cause work stoppages are fatigue and physical disorders. In general they have a strong desire to retain their jobs. At first they are afraid of losing their position and express anxiety both at relational and professional level. But after several years of experience, they appreciate their employability as very positive. They feel more welcome at work and at home, their sense of security greatly improves and their vitality increases considerably.

Nearly half of the multiple sclerosis patients retain the ability to work after they have ceased their occupational activity. Fatigue and cognitive impairment are often mentioned by patients as factors to explain their work stoppage. In the ability to maintain employment, personal attributes, the positive face of disease, environmental factors such as financial situations and family should be taken into account.

In terms of independent living and daily travel arrangements, the rehabilitation of patients of multiple sclerosis is necessarily linked to the severity of impairments and disabilities. The pursuit of an occupation is certainly an important factor in the quality of life. Hence the importance of providing people with multiple sclerosis the information and guidance in choosing the appropriate type of job and workplace.

People with Multiple sclerosis can live a normal life provided they are supported by their family, friends, colleagues, health care professionals and rehabilitation agencies.

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