Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week is March 10-16, 2024

Learn about MS and how you can make a difference for individuals affected by this unpredictable disease.

Did you know that multiple sclerosis (MS) affects over 2.8 million people worldwide? This disease, which affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, can significantly impact the lives of those diagnosed with it. In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week on March 10-16, 2024, let’s delve into what MS is, the history behind MS Awareness Week, and explore five impactful ways to help raise awareness about this condition.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. In MS, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers, leading to inflammation and damage. This damage disrupts the flow of information between the brain and the rest of the body, resulting in a wide range of symptoms that can vary greatly among individuals.

Fatigue is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of MS, affecting approximately 80% of individuals. It can be overwhelming and may interfere with daily activities. Many people with MS also experience numbness and tingling, pain, and muscle weakness. MS can also cause blindness and affect the muscles involved in walking, talking, and swallowing. Early detection and management can help improve outcomes and quality of life for individuals living with this condition.

History of MS Awareness Week

MS Awareness Week reflects the growing recognition of multiple sclerosis both nationally and globally. This awareness has not only shed light on the challenges faced by individuals living with MS, but has also sparked a movement aimed at finding a cure and empowering those affected to live their fullest lives.

As a result of these efforts, there have been continued advancements in the development of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for MS, including the approval of new medications that aim to reduce relapses, slow disease progression, and manage symptoms. Researchers are also exploring innovative treatment approaches for MS, including stem cell therapy and immunomodulatory treatments. These advancements reflect ongoing progress in the understanding, management, and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

5 ways to participate in MS Awareness Week

1. Educate yourself and others

This March, set aside time to learn more about multiple sclerosis, its symptoms, and impact on individuals and families. Share this knowledge with friends, family, and your community to raise awareness and foster understanding and empathy towards those living with MS.

Employers may also choose to provide training and awareness programs for managers, supervisors, and staff members to educate them about MS and the impact it may have on individuals in the workplace. This is a great way to encourage empathy and foster a supportive and inclusive work culture.

2. Wear orange

The color orange represents energy, strength, and optimism — and it’s also the official color of MS awareness. Using orange to represent MS awareness sends a message of hope and empowerment for individuals living with this condition. Orange also stands out and grabs attention, making it an effective choice to start an even larger conversation about MS by wearing this color during MS Awareness Week.

3. Upgrade your employee wellness program

Living with MS can be challenging both physically and emotionally. Wellness programs and initiatives, such as exercise classes and counseling services, provide valuable support for physical health and mental well-being. These programs can benefit all employees, including those living with MS.

4. Implement flexible work policies

Flexible work policies, such as four-day workweeks or remote work, allow employees to balance their work commitments with personal responsibilities like school, childcare, or chronic illness. By implementing flexible work policies, employers can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment for employees with MS and other health conditions.

5. Join an MS State Action Day event

Each year, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its affiliates organize MS State Action Days around the country. During these events, MS activists gather to advocate for policy changes and legislative initiatives that benefit individuals affected by MS. Participants have the opportunity to meet with state legislators, share personal stories and experiences related to MS, discuss advocacy priorities, and urge policymakers to support measures that improve access to healthcare, research funding, disability rights, and other issues relevant to the MS community.

To see if your state is hosting an Action Day event, click here.

Download the free Disability Events calendar

While designated events like MS Awareness Week and State Action Days provide valuable opportunities for advocacy and engagement, it’s important to remember that each of us can make a difference every day. For more events and observances you can participate in, download the free disability events calendar below!

Free Resource: 2024 Disability Events Calendar
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