Multiple sclerosis movement and balance problems cause identified, can help cure other autoimmune disease

By: Emily Lunardo | Brain Function | Friday, July 15, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Multiple sclerosis movement and balance problems cause identified, can help cure other autoimmune diseaseMultiple sclerosis (MS) movement and balance problems cause identified and it can help cure other autoimmune diseases. The researchers found what they call a faulty “brake” in the immune cells. This “brake” should be controlling inflammation – but it doesn’t. The new findings could also be useful in development of new targeted therapies for other autoimmune diseases as well.

Additionally, the study produced new research models for multiple sclerosis symptoms like movement and balance problems – which could be used as effective tools for better understanding multiple sclerosis.

The researchers uncovered a mutation in the gene NIrp12 that puts immune T cells out of order. Under normal circumstances, a protein in T cells acts as a brake for inflammatory response. A mutation in NIrp12 disrupts this process, triggering severe inflammation.

Surprisingly, the inflammation did not onset the paralysis, characteristic of MS, but it did trigger other multiple sclerosis symptoms, like movement and balance control problems.

Researcher John Lukens said, “It’s important to note that MS is a spectrum disorder – some patients present with paralyzing conditions and some patients don’t. Not everybody’s symptoms are the same, so this might give us a glimpse into the etiology or pathogenesis of that family of MS,”

Blocking the inflammatory response may help find a way to control these symptoms and inform further therapy developments.

Balance problems in multiple sclerosis

A common multiple sclerosis symptom, balance problems stem from demyelination in the cerebellum, which controls movement, balance, coordination, and muscle tone. Unfortunately, balance problems, unlike tremors, cannot be treated with medications, so the best remedy to combat balance problems is through exercise.

Body parts responsible for balance can be categorized into one of three groups: input, processing, and output. If damage occurs in any of these areas, the result is balance problems.

Input refers to vision, the inner ear, or sensory changes. If any of these are affected by multiple sclerosis, balance problems take place, because of the confusing information the brain receives about positioning of the body in the physical world.

Processing refers to the information processing by the brain. It can be greatly affected in multiple sclerosis as a result of demyelination. Myelin destruction and nerve damage affect the way signals to and from the brain are transmitted and processed, thus resulting in balance problems.

Lastly, multiple sclerosis can also affect muscles, which are responsible for executing brain commands – the output. The symptoms include coordination problems, muscle spasms, tremor, or weakness.

Talk to your doctor about your balance problems and a possible referral to a physical or occupational therapist.

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