Multiple Sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated response in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system. The immune system attacks myelin, which surrounds nerve fibers, as well as the nerve fibers themselves. When myelin is damaged, nerve impulses traveling to the brain or spinal cord are disrupted, causing a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
In general, MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society lists the following symptoms as common among people with MS:
- Walking difficulties
- Numbness or tingling
- Vision problems
- Bladder Problems
- Emotional changes
Due to the variety of symptoms, MS can be difficult to diagnose. There is no single standard diagnostic test for MS. Instead, a physician must search for evidence of multiple occurrences of myelin damage and rule out all other causes.
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
There is no cure for MS, but a comprehensive treatment plan can manage symptoms, and promote function through rehabilitation.
There are many medications that can reduce the severity of relapses, reduce the accumulation of lesions on the brain and spinal cord, and slow the accumulation of disability for people with MS. Rehabilitation in the form of speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy can also preserve an individual’s ability to function. Finally, a mental health professional can provide emotional support and manage any emotional issues related to MS.
Veterans and MS
Veterans with MS that is either service-connected or non-service connected are both eligible for VA healthcare. Veterans who had symptoms of MS while in the military, or within seven years of discharge, qualify for service-connected disability compensation.
The VA allows a presumption of service connection for certain diseases that appear within a specified time period after discharge. For MS, the time period is seven years after discharge. Any veteran who has symptoms of MS within seven years of discharge from the service will receive a presumption of service connection.
Veterans with MS who are more than seven years removed from their military service can still apply for VA benefits, but will have to provide proof that their MS either manifested within that seven-year window, or that it is connected to their military service.
If your claim has been previously denied, get help from an experienced veterans law practitioner. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick has over 25 years of experience helping veterans appeal their claims. Contact us today for a free consultation.