Society designates MS Awareness Month

The National Multiple Sclerosis So-ciety has designated March as MS Awareness Month, according to Sharon O’Keiff Fusco, manager of the Duncansville office of the Keystone Chapter.

Founded in 1946, the National MS Society’s vision is a world free of MS through medical research, advocacy, education, programs and direct patient services.

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredict-able and often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information in the brain and between the brain and the body. Symptoms range from reduced or lost mobility to numbness and tingling, as well as blindness and paralysis. The disease mainly strikes adults between the ages of 20 to 50.

In addition to adults, it is estimated that more than 25,000 people younger than 18 have symptoms that mimic MS. The disease is especially difficult to diagnosis in children, where it is often mistaken for other childhood neurological disorders.

While MS is not contagious or di-rectly inherited, scientists have identified factors in the occurrence of the disease, such as gender, genetics, age, geography and ethnic background.

Today, more people are being diagnosed with MS than in the past, likely due to improved diagnostic capabilities and better access to medical care.

Although there is still no cure for multiple sclerosis, ongoing medical research in areas such as adult stem cells, immune cells, genetics, drug, vaccine and dietary therapies and wireless motion capture sensors is making great strides toward an eventual cure.

The MS Pennsylvania Keystone Chapter is associated with two outpatient MS centers: the University of Pittsburgh UPMC MS Clinic and the Allegheny MS Treatment Center in Pittsburgh. Both facilities provide diagnosis and comprehensive care.

Patients, families and caregivers, along with the general public, can access a complete and up-to-date multi-media library on a wide variety of MS-related topics at or by calling the local MS office at 696-1017 or visiting

“The Duncansville office responds to people and their families living with multiple sclerosis by providing wellness and exercise programs, as well as emotional and family support,” said Anthea L. Germano, public relations volunteer for the Duncansville office. “Along with raising needed funds for MS education and medical research, we also provide financial assistance for medical equipment, ramps, home and automobile modifications, air conditioners and crisis assistance.”

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society offers college scholarships for high school seniors diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS.

The REACH Program is a grant-funded initiative that addresses abuse and neglect of people with MS by offering education, advocacy, support, relocation assistance and referrals to ensure safety and independence for these individuals.

The Duncansville office covers Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties. Events for this area include the MS Walk, Bike MS, the annual Anne E. Barnes Golf Tournament and Lobsterfest for MS.