MS does not mean giving up your dreams

D’hooghe MB, Feys P, Deltour S, Van de Putte I, De Meue J, Kos D, O Eijnde B, Van Asch P. Impact of a 5-day expedition to machu picchu on persons with multiple sclerosis.Mult Scler Int. 2014;2014:761210.

Persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) are less physically active than non-diseased persons and often report low self-efficacy levels. In the context of an awareness project to promote physical activity and participation in MS, we addressed the impact of training for and participation in a unique expedition. Medical events, relapses, and self-reported neurological worsening were followed from 6 months before and up to 4 months afterwards. Validated patient-reported outcome measures were used to assess fatigue, self-efficacy in exercising, walking abilities, and illness perception. Nine participants completed the training, expedition, and observational study. Minor events, relapses, and/or neurological worsening were reported in six participants. The three participants with mild disability and no cardiovascular risk factors or comorbidities were free of medical and neurological events. We found a significant reduction of motor fatigue at last when compared with the first assessment. The reduction tended to be more evident in participants with mild disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) <4 at baseline). Cognitive fatigue, self-efficacy, and self-reported walking abilities did not change significantly. Illness perceptions tended to be reduced over time in the domains of consequences, identity, and concerns. Overall, no major adverse events occurred.

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level, located in Peru

MS does not mean giving up your dreams but you may have to think differently how best to achieve them

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  • I set myself challenges – not on the scale of Macchu Picchu, but trying to see as much of the world as possible. I generally do better than expected on the trip but need quite a long recovery period and, annoyingly, it's impossible to predict how long this will be. During this time I have little energy. But what the above study doesn't show is that fatigue isn't just an MS phenomenon – we can forget that travel is tiring for everyone. The difference, I guess, is that MSers can't take chances with travel arrangements. Everything has to be planned to the nth degree, which can be a bore.

  • "How can we get a free trip to South America to see machu picchu? Let's take some MSers along and do a "study" in the name of science." Here's a study option. Take a group of MSers to say Chicago in the middle of January and try to navigate the streets at 0 degrees with a 30 mph wind and a foot of snow. Do these people live in the real world?

  • I'm surprised Macchu Picchu was the choice because I would have thought the lowered oxygen levels would have prejudicial to MSers. I try and go to all sorts of places but I wouldn't consider anywhere that high up.

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