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We have a gut feeling—of the importance of intestinal microbes in MS

There is still so much about the world of bacteria and other microbes inside our gastrointestinal tract, or gut, that we need to discover.  We are just beginning to explore this internal domain, and, in the past several years, scientists have made some interesting observations.   The entirety of bacteria and other microbes living within each of us—also called our microbiome—is unique to each of us.  This microbiome can be influenced by where we live (developed country v.s. developing country), what we eat (more animal products v.s. more vegetables) and what medications we take (for example, antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in our body may also kill some of...

Mobility Aids and Your Quality of Life

Mobility aids and assistive devices can improve your quality of life and allow you to accomplish tasks more independently.  These devices range from smaller tools, such as adaptive toothbrushes and cutlery, to larger equipment, such as scooters and electric wheelchairs.  When you decide to use one of these implements, you may want to consider that not only can they make your day easier, but safer too.   Assistive devices help you conserve energy, an important consideration when living with MS, and, in the case of mobility aids, an assistive device may even help prevent potential falls. Your physician may refer you to an occupational therapist, physical therapist, physiatrist or speech/language...

Myelination and the Active Brain

        When you practice a new cognitive skill, like learning a language, or perform a new motor skill, like learning to swim, you activate pathways in your brain in new ways. We have long known that, when you learn or practice new skills, your brain creates new connections between neurons (called synapses) or modifies existing connections. Several recent studies implicate certain brain cells called oligodendrocytes, and the myelin sheaths they create around our neurons, as also playing an important role in learning or performance enhancement.   Much of the myelination of our brain occurs during early development. During this period, immature cells called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells...