Nav: Home

Improving symptom tracking in multiple sclerosis

March 09, 2017

AMHERST, MASS. - With a recent two-year, $833,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, kinesiology professor Richard van Emmerik and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hope to eventually help an estimated 1 million people worldwide living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) by creating an improved diagnostic test for this form of the disease, which is characterized by a steady decrease in nervous system function.

Van Emmerik says, "The goal of our test is to accurately track the progression of symptoms in patients and clearly diagnose them with either progressive or non-progressive MS." Despite the fact that almost half of individuals with MS at present exhibit a progressive or steadily declining disease course, effective methods to treat and provide a timely diagnosis have been elusive, he adds. His current project's aim is to develop an accurate and sensitive test that can detect subtle changes in sensory and motor function.

The project holds promise for having an immediate impact on the way patients with progressive MS are treated, the kinesiologist notes. With results of this work in hand relatively soon, as early as two years, he expects clinicians and researchers will soon be able to begin using these new methods.

The two-part project will begin with researchers developing new standardized measures for symptoms of progressive MS such as patients' ability to feel sensations on their feet, their capacity to sense movement and joint position in the lower body, capacity to coordinate limb movement and overall ability to walk unaided. In part two, the researchers will track participants' progress over two years using the new measures.

The research team is an alliance between the departments of kinesiology in the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences and clinical neurology at the UMass Medical School. UMass Amherst team members are professors Jane Kent and Richard van Emmerik, postdoctoral researcher Jongil Lim and graduate research assistants Julianna Averill and Julia Miehm. Carolina Ionete and Carolyn Griffin are from the medical school; consultants John Buonaccorsi and Stephanie Jones also work with the team.

Van Emmerik explains, "We want to understand how sensation and motor function change in those with progressive MS by repeating these measurements every six months. The ultimate goal is to develop a process that will detect small changes in patients so clinicians and researchers can develop effective, early treatments to slow disability progression in those with MS and maintain or improve their quality of life."
-end-


University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.