Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) or have been living with the condition for a while, chances are you’ll sometimes hear terms from your healthcare team that are new to you.
The following is a quick, alphabetical guide to the terminology you may need to know as you manage your condition:
Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) A brace designed to support the position of the foot and motion of the ankle to compensate for nerve damage and muscle weakness in the area caused by MS and other movement disorders. An AFO is typically used to stabilize weak limbs or to reposition a limb with contracted muscles into a more normal position.
Annualized Relapse Rate This is the average number of relapses that occur within a group of people with MS in one year. It’s often used as a measure of a drug’s effectiveness in clinical research trials.
For example, if in a group of 100 people with MS, each person had 1 relapse, that would total 100 relapses over that year; the average number of relapses that each individual experienced would be 1, and hence the annualized relapse rate would also be 1.
In another example, if out of 100 people with MS, 50 people have 2 relapses and 50 people don’t have any, the average would again be 1, and the annualized relapse rate would also be 1.
Autoimmune Disease Your immune system plays a major part of your body’s defense against bacteria and viruses by sending out cells to attack them once they enter your body. However, if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body, causing them to weaken or break down. MS is thought to be just one example of an autoimmune disease. It has been suggested that in MS, your immune system may mistakenly attack the cells in your central nervous system.
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