Every few months I like to share what is new and exciting in the world of MS research and news. Here is what I found most recently!
Yes, you read that right. In a recent study, The development of MS has been linked to a toxin found in sheep. This study found that individuals who have MS are more likely to have antibodies against Epsilon Toxin. This indicates that these individuals who have the antibodies have been exposed to this toxin previously. This specific toxin can damage the brain and is fatal to livestock. It si produced in the gut by the bacteria Clostridium Perfringens. The specific toxin has been known to be in other animals and soil but is most known for its role in a type of blood poisoning in sheep. Researchers conducting the study used two different methods of testing participants for the toxin and 43% of MS patients were found to have antibodies for the epsilon toxin compared to only 16% of the control group. Obviously more research is needed in this area.
Beneficial Rehab Technique
A rehab technique that has been used with stroke patients is showing promise for individuals with MS. Findings from the University of Alabama at Birmingham details a technique called “Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CI)” which showed considerable improvements for individuals with MS. The patients showed drastic improvements in activities of daily living and those improvements were still present for at least a year in study participants. In another paper published, improvements in white matter within patients brains following the therapy showed positive measurable changes at the end of treatment as well. The therapy involves restraining a lesser affected limb and then combining that with intensive training on the more affected limb. Then activities of daily living and movements are trained and drilled repeatedly. This technique has also been shown to be effective for traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy as well as stroke patients.
In another study, researchers looked at this specific therapy and contrasted it against other alternative treatments, such as pool exercise and yoga. Each patient recorded their functional ability on a motor activity log both pre-and post therapy. Both groups received 35 hours of their respective treatments. After the treatments, the CI therapy group improved significantly more based on their self reported motor activity log than the alternative treatment group. The CI therapy group improved an average of 2.7 points on the motor activity log scale and the alternative therapy patients only saw an improvement of .5 points. After year, these results did not change.
In the second study, again they compared and contrasted the CI therapy group and the alternative treatment group. They found that the CI therapy group showed improvement in the White matter of their brains and the alternative therapy group showed no improvement. This is groundbreaking because this shows that the white matter damage might be able to be reversed by CI therapy.
African-American Population and MS Damage
In a recently published study, it was discovered that MS in the African-American population advances much quicker than it does in the Caucasian population. Researchers studied MRI brain scans and retinal atrophy over the course of about 4 1/2 years in both populations. At the end of that time frame, it was clear that the disease progression was much more advanced for the African-American population than the Caucasian population. The MRI scans showed that both gray and white matter atrophied was twice as fast, there was more damage in the thalamus (which controls cognition), and there was more retinal damage in the African-American population as compared to the Caucasian population. Due to this accelerated rate of degeneration, it may be wise for African-American individuals to be aggressive with treatment early on.
All of these studies are very interesting, some seem to hold more weigh than others. I’m somewhat at a loss as to the sheep toxin. There must be another explanation…right? The Constraint Induced Movement Therapy seems very promising for individuals who have been very affected by movement issues. It seems like it will take a lot of diligent, hard work, but since when do we shy away from that? I’m also intrigued by the findings comparing the African-American population to the Caucasian population. I’d love to see more research about this and I’m curious as to why this is.
I’m curious to know what your thoughts are about these studies! Let me know in the comments!
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