4 posts tagged “spasticity”

How Social Media Is Changing Research (Part I): A Guest Post by MS Clinical Trial Participant and Blogger Jeri Burtchell

Posted September 12th, 2012 by

Today’s guest post is written by PatientsLikeMe member Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink), who has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 13 years.  A tie dye apparel store owner and mother of two, she writes a blog entitled “Gilenya and Me:  My Story of Being an MS Patient, a Hypochondriac and a Guinea Pig.”  Her patient advocacy and social media presence led to her being invited to speak the Disruptive Innovations conference taking place in Boston this week.

MS Patient, Blogger and Activist Jeri Burtchell (TickledPink at PatientsLikeMe)

One rainy day in April 2007, I was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, talking myself out of suicide. I was having another MS relapse. This time it was attacking the part of my brain responsible for controlling emotion. As a result I was having panic attacks almost daily. Along with the emotional issues, I was also having trouble walking and horrible spasticity.

I had been diagnosed with MS for eight years at that point and, although I was on one of the FDA approved treatments, I was continuing to relapse three to four times a year. It felt like standing in the ocean; every time I would stand up and catch my breath, another “wave” of MS knocked me back down.

Deciding against suicide, I made some proactive choices that led to my meeting with the lead investigator of the Fingolimod (now marketed as Gilenya) clinical trials in Jacksonville, Florida. At my first appointment we discussed the Fingolimod trial called TRANSFORMS. I took the informed consent document home and went over all the risks and benefits with my family. After extensive baseline testing, I officially started the trial on August 20, 2007, a.k.a. “Randomization Day”, when I received my first dose of medication. I would return for regular testing many times over the next several years.

Joining the trial changed my life. I was very fortunate that I did not suffer any major side effects, and I am happy to say that my last MS attack to date was the very one which led me to contemplate suicide that day in April 2007.

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I was fascinated by the research during the trial. They did a lot of testing, and I have never felt more assured that my overall health was being tracked, observed and cared for as I did in the clinical trial. Since I did not have medical insurance, this was a plus on top of benefits I might be getting if on the real drug.

When the trial began, I wanted to know what to expect. I tried searching the Internet for a clinical trial from a patient’s perspective and could find nothing. I decided to share my experience with the world so others considering a trial might have their own fears put at ease. Thus my blog, www.gilenyaandme.com, was born.

I blogged all of my checkups and along the way something unexpected happened. Many people wrote to thank me for being the reason they felt able to overcome their own fears and join a clinical trial. We began connecting and sharing our personal experiences in a way only the Internet could enable.

Read Part II of Jeri’s guest post!


What Do You Know About Multiple Sclerosis?

Posted March 1st, 2012 by

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Has Been Sponsoring MS Education and Awareness Month Since 2003

March is National MS Education and Awareness Month (NMEAM), an initiative of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) to raise awareness for this chronic neurological disease affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

This year’s theme is “At Your Best with MS,” encouraging the more than 2.5 million people with MS worldwide to seek the best quality of life possible.  This means different things to different people as MS varies widely in severity, with approximately 15% of those diagnosed becoming severely disabled.  It could include adhering to a treatment regimen, eating healthy, keeping fit, developing a support network and/or maintaining good emotional health.

It could also refer to nurturing hobbies and interests.  That’s why the MSF has launched the “Show Us Your Best” contest, which calls for creative submissions (such as poems, essays, photo collages, videos, songs and more) demonstrating how people are raising awareness of MS.  The deadline for entry is March 31st, and the grand prize winner will win a cruise for two on MSF’s 2013 “Cruise for a Cause” to Alaska.

A Snapshot of the MS Community at PatientsLikeMe - and Its Age/Gender Breakdowns

With 26,000+ members, the MS community at PatientsLikeMe is one of our largest.  Approximately 80% of the MS community is female (reflecting the fact that MS is at least 2-3 times more common in women than men), and slightly more than half have the relapsing-remitting form of the disease (RRMS).  We also have 1,400+ patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), 2,200+ with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and 580+ with progressive relapsing MS (PRMS).

Some of the most commonly reported MS symptoms in our community include bladder problems, brain fog, excessive daytime sleepiness and stiffness/spasticity.  What are our members taking for these issues – as well as for MS itself?  From disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) like Copaxone, Avonex and Tysabri to steroids like Prednisone to symptom-specific medications like Baclofen and Modafinil, our members have submitted hundreds of evaluations for nearly all available treatment options.  (Click on each drug name above to find out how they rate the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)

A Snapshot of Some of the Most Commonly Reported MS Symptoms - and Their Severity - at PatientsLikeMe

Our members are not only sharing their experiences with treatments and symptoms on their PatientsLikeMe profiles – they’re also chatting about them.  A lot.  To date, the MS forum room has over 786,000 posts! Some of the most frequently used forum tags are CCSVI (“The Liberation Procedure”), Low Dose Naltexone (LDN), SSDI (Disability Insurance), Fatigue, “LimboLand” and Research.  (Click on each category to see what patients are saying about the topic.)

Piqued by all the knowledge found in our MS community?  This is just the the tip of the iceberg – and the kickoff of our MS coverage this month.  Stay tuned for more about what our MS members are sharing and learning during MS Awareness Week (March 10-17th), organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).


Life with Parkinson’s Disease: What We’ve Learned

Posted December 15th, 2011 by

On Tuesday, our interview with blogger Steve Ploussard of “Attitude & Fitness Wins” revealed how one person is managing his Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Today we take a closer look at this progressive neurological condition using the data and experiences shared by our 5,920 PD members.

Age at Which Patients Experienced Their First Parkinson's Symptom

Taking a look at the makeup of our PD community, 52% are male, and 48% are female.  More than 98% identify PD as their primary condition, and just shy of 20% report experiencing their first symptom between the ages of 50 and 59.  Others report experiencing their first symptom anywhere from adolescence to their seventies.  (See the chart for a complete breakdown.)  What exactly are the symptoms of this condition?  Some of the most commonly reported include stiffness/spasticity, slowness, sexual dysfunction, memory problems, excessive daytime drowsiness and constipation.

As Steve’s interview revealed, Carbidopa-Levodopa (Sinemet) is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for PD as it helps to control tremors, one of the most visible manifestations of the disease, and other movement dysfunctions.  Currently, more than 1,698 members report taking this medication, and 300+ of them have submitted Sinemet treatment evaluations, which review the drug’s effectiveness, side effects, dosage, cost and more.   Here’s what one patient writes about Sinemet on her evaluation:  “I notice my leg limp and motivation to walk improves dramatically when it kicks in. The tremor is much less.

Some of the Most Commonly Reported Treatments for Parkinson's, As Reported by PatientsLikeMe Members

Other commonly reported PD treatments include prescription medications such as Ropinirole (Requip), Pramipexole (Mirapex), Rasagiline (Azilect) and Amantadine; OTC supplements such as CoQ10; and surgical procedures such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).  Click on the treatment name to see the data we’ve amassed for each, including hundreds of treatment evaluations submitted by our patients.

This is just a sample of the wealth of experience and data to be found at PatientsLikeMe.  Dive in today to learn more about PD.


Parkinson’s Disease: Real-World Data, Real-World Experiences

Posted April 19th, 2009 by

It’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month. As we continue to spread the word about this condition, we wanted to tell you a little bit more about our PatientsLikeMe Parkinson’s community. Launched two years ago this month, the community has steadily grown to include more than 3,400 patients. Below are some interesting facts about the community, as well as an interview with one of our members (“PokieToo”) giving her real-world experience of living with condition.

WHAT’S IT LIKE LIVING WITH PARKINSON’S DISEASE (PD)?
Meet PokieToo.  A long-time member of our PD community, she tells us how she continues to “look for the sunshine” while “taking 30 pills a day.”   “Out there for the next person,” PokieToo gives us a glimpse of the real-world experiences of living with Parkinson’s disease.


DID YOU ALSO KNOW…

  • More than 1,500 of our patient members are 50-yrs old or older
  • 140+ of our patient members have inherited Parkinson’s disease (PD), and a handful of people have the less common drug-induced Parkinsonism and Vascular Parkinsonism
  • Approximately 10% of our patient members (or 331) are Young-Onset Parkinson’s patients; that is, they report having experienced their first symptom before the age of 40.

How are our members treating their condition?

What are their major symptoms?

What are they talking about?

  • Some of the top topics “tagged” in our forum discussions to date include specific treatments (like Sinemet, Mirapex, Deep Brain Stimulation/DBS and Exercise), symptoms like tremors and depression, as well as other hot issues like SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), the annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk, stem cells, clinical trials and research.