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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis better, but little awareness: Docs

Mumbai: Sudha Kulkarni (64) walks with the aid of a crutch. She limps a little but can still perform yoga with the support of a wall. It is this passion for practising and teaching yoga that has kept the Goregaon resident going, although she has been suffering from multiple sclerosis. 

    Sudha's problem started 18 years ago after she had a fall and broke two bones of her left leg. After this, she fell down twice within six months. "Even after undergoing surgeries and physiotherapy, my leg suffered complete numbness. Doctors found different reasons for the state of my leg," said Sudha. "However, in 2008 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis," sheadded. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Though the diagnosis of the disease has improved, there is hardly any improvement in the awareness. "Presently, there are about 5-15 cases in one lakh people in India. Diagnosis has become easy and there are new drugs to reduce relapse and improve the quality of a patient's life. However, there is lack of support from society for those who suffer from multiple sclerosis," said Dr B S Singhal, neurophysician at Bombay Hospital. Apart from physical barriers like lack of ramps for patients, there are social obstacles. Experts say that there is lack of compassion on part of the government. MS does not come under any disability quota, moreover, there is no insurance cover for patients, who have to buy medicines worth anywhere between Rs 3 and 6 lakh per year to avoid a relapse. 
    "It is vital that the government, health professionals and the public work towards improving policies and supporting people afflicted with MS," said Sheela Chitnis, vice-president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. 
The Disorder 

• Multiple sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. The disorder affects women more than men and is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40

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