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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system attacks the myelin (protective sheaths that cover nerve fibres) in the brain and spinal cord. This causes problems with communication between the brain and the rest of the body, eventually leading to damage of the nerves themselves. There is currently no cure for MS. However, there are treatments to manage symptoms, prolong the progression of the disease, and to speed up the recovery from an attack.

For more information, visit The MS Society of Canada or The National MS Society.

TRANSVERSE MYELITIS

Transverse myelitis occurs when there is inflammation in the spinal cord (protective sheaths that cover nerve fibres). This causes problems with communication between the spinal cord and the rest of the body leading to pain, muscle weakness, paralysis, sensory problems and bladder/bowel dysfunction. Medications and rehabilitative therapy are often used to treat transverse myelitis.

For more information visit The Transverse Myelitis Association.

OPTIC NEURITIS (ON)

Optic neuritis occurs when there is inflammation of the optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibres that transmits signals between your eyes and brain). This may cause pain and temporary vision loss in the affected eye. ON is often linked to multiple sclerosis (MS) or neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) as it can be the first signs of a recurrent neuroinflammatory disorder. It can also develop later in patients already diagnosed with MS or NMOSD. Additionally, ON can be seen with other demyelinating events, infections or immune diseases.

For more information, visit The National MS Society.

NEUROMYELITIS OPTICA SPECTRUM DISORDER (NMOSD)

Neuromyelitis Optica spectrum disorder is a neuroinflamamtory condition that affects the optic nerve (nerve that conducts signals between the eye and the brain) and the spinal cord. It is characterized by the presence of both optic neuritis and transverse myelitis. These patients often experience pain in the eye, vision loss, weakness or numbness of the limbs, sensory disturbances and loss of bladder/bowel dysfunction. There is currently no cure for NMOSD however, there are therapies to treat attacks, reduce symptoms, and prevent relapses.

For more information, visit The Guthy Jackson Foundation.

AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS

Autoimmune encephalitis is an attack on the brain by our bodies’ immune system. This can cause impair in functions leading to muscle weakness, loss of balance, seizures, sleep problems, cognitive impairments, and speech impairment. Many patients recover partially or completely after treatment.

ACUTE DISSEMINATED ENCEPHALOMYELITIS (ADEM)

ADEM is an attack of acute and serious inflammation of the brain, optic nerve (the nerve that transmits signals between the eye and brain), and spinal cord which affects the myelin (protective sheath around nerve fibres) and grey matter in the brain. ADEM most often occurs only once and can cause seizures, headaches, confusion, visual problems, weakness, balance difficulties, and numbness. Patients with ADEM must be followed up regularly as there is a possibility of future attacks.

For more information, visit The National MS Society.

ANTI-NMDA RECEPTOR ENCEPHALITIS

NMDA receptors are proteins in the brain that are responsible for important functions such as judgement, perceptions of reality, human interaction, memory,  and the control of unconscious functions (i.e., breathing, swallowing, etc). Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis occurs when the body produces antibodies that attack these NMDA receptors. This may lead to seizures, flu-like symptoms, memory problems, sleep disorders, cognitive and behavioural disturbances, or problems with some of your autonomic functions. Immunotherapies can help patients with this disorder.

For more information, visit The Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation.

RASMUSSEN'S ENCEPHALITIS

Rasumussen’s encephalitis is characterized by inflammation of one side of the brain, which can lead to seizures. Other symptoms include weakness on one side of the body and intellectual disabilities. These patients are often treated with immunotherapy and/or surgery in addition to physiotherapy and seizure management.

ACUTE NECROTIZING ENCEPHALOPATHY OF CHILDHOOD

ANEC is a neuroinflammatory disorder which usually presents after a viral infection and may be associated with an abnormality in the RANBP2 gene. Areas of the central nervous system affected include the deep grey matter (basal ganglia) and brainstem (pons). These children often experience respiratory or gastrointestinal problems along with a high fever. ANEC is also associated with rapid neurological decline.

OPSOCLONUS-MYOCLONUS ATAXIA SYNDROME

Opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia syndrome (OMAS) is a rare but serious autoimmune neurological illness that typically affects toddlers and young children. Neuroblastoma (a tumour of the sympathetic nervous system) is found in up to 50% of pediatric OMAS cases , and 2-3% of children with neuroblastoma will develop OMAS. Symptoms of OMAS include uncontrolled rapid eye movements (opsoclonus), involuntary jerking of muscles (myoclonus), body coordination/balance difficulties (ataxia), and behavioural/sleep disturbances. These children are most often treated with immunotherapy.