Numbers of people in Scotland with MS is 1/3 higher than previously thought.

Leuchie House CEO, Mark Bevan responds to MS Society Scotland's latest research.

The excellent research of the MS Society and their partners published this week highlighted that the number of people with MS in Scotland is 1/3 higher than previously thought. An average of 13 people a week in Scotland are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, giving a population living with the condition of around 15,000 people. It is one of those conditions that the general public is vaguely aware of but the impact of which little is understood. By comparison, other neurological conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease, which currently affects around 500 people in Scotland are much more in the public eye, thanks to the brave and uplifting public awareness work undertaken by celebrities such as the incomparably upbeat Doddie Weir.

MS is a condition in which the bodies immune system makes multiple attacks on the coating around the nerves in the central nervous system i.e. the brain and spinal cord etc. It also attacks the nerves themselves. The attack and remaining scarring (sclerosis) leads to a loss of control and function over time, thankfully these days it is often over a very long time.

What most Scots don’t realise is the uniquely Scottish connection to MS. Research at Radcliff showed that people living in Scotland, with Scottish ancestry are more than twice as likely to develop the condition than those living South of the border, or indeed anywhere else.

Previous research has indicated that the far north of Scotland, Orkney and the Shetlands in particular had the highest rates of MS and that migrant communities of Scott’s descent, such as in parts of New Zealand also experience higher than usual prevalence rates of the condition.

Diagnosis typically occurs at the time that most of us are mortgaged to the hilt, with young children and experiencing all the stresses that life throws at us. Medical advance has ensured that most people go on to live full lives, but there are consequences. The gradual loss of physical independence impacts self confidence and usually turns partners into carers, a role from which there is little respite, and that which is available very often being an entirely unsuitable and temporarily vacant bed in a home for older people.

For nearly 10 years Leuchie has been providing a proper holiday experience, with 24 hour expert nursing care, for those affected by MS. We believe that breaks are essential whatever your circumstances and breaks for carers are vital. What we offer is a truly a uniquely Scottish response to a uniquely Scottish condition.