The human nervous system is a complex system that includes the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. The nervous system works in conjunction with other body systems to keep us breathing, walking, talking and performing other vital functions.
When the nervous system is healthy and working properly, we are able to complete our daily tasks without difficulty, but when the system is damaged or diseased, simple activities become challenging. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system in which the immune system, for reasons unknown, attacks the nerve cells, damaging the insulating layer – the myelin.
Scientists believe MS to be both genetically and environmentally caused. Certain populations, such as people from Northern Europe, have a higher rate of MS. Some viruses are also thought to increase the risk for developing MS. Researchers believe that a combination of these factors causes MS to develop in some people and not in others. It is a complicated disease with no known cure, but as research continues, new treatment options become available.
To explain current treatment options for MS, Christopher Lock, M.D., clinical instructor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University Medical Center, will deliver a free presentation 7 p.m. Thursday at Stanford Health Library at the Hoover Pavilion, 211 Quarry Road, Suite 201. To register, call 498-7826 or visit healthlibrary.stanford.edu/lectures. The program will also be available via live webcast starting at 7 p.m. at stanfordvideo.stanford.edu/stream/shvl.html.
Stanford offers numerous books that explain multiple sclerosis from both a professional and consumer view.
One of the easier-to-understand consumer resources is “100 Questions & Answers About Multiple Sclerosis” (Jones & Bartlett, 2011) by William A. Sheremata, M.D. The book provides information in a simple question-and-answer format and proves a useful resource for the newly diagnosed – covering everything from diagnostic criteria to pregnancy in women with MS.
A concise resource with more technical information is “Multiple Sclerosis” (Oxford, 2012) by Sandra Amor and Hans Van Noort. The publication, part of “The Facts” series, covers the biology of MS, featuring a comprehensive description of the immune system and which genetic and environmental factors are thought to be involved in developing the disease.
“Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for Families” (Demos, 2005) is an older resource that speaks to the emotional impact of MS. The guide, by Rosalind C. Kalb, Ph.D., discusses family issues related to multiple sclerosis, such as parenting and relationships.
The books mentioned above and many others are available on the shelves of Stanford Health Library. Electronic books are accessible at healthlibrary.stanford.edu.
The main branch of Stanford Health Library is located in the Hoover Pavilion. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Other branches are located on the first floor of Stanford Hospital, on the main level of Stanford’s Cancer Center, at the Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto and at the newest branch at the Stanford Cancer Center South Bay, 2589 Samaritan Drive, San Jose.