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What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. Surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers of the CNS is a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses.

In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. These damaged areas are also known as plaques or lesions. Sometimes the nerve fiber itself is damaged or broken.

Myelin not only protects nerve fibers, but makes their job possible. When myelin or the nerve fiber is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, and this produces the various symptoms of MS.

What Causes MS?

While the exact cause of MS is unknown, most researchers believe that the damage to myelin results from an abnormal response by the body’s immune system. Normally, the immune system defends the body against foreign invaders such as viruses or bacteria. In autoimmune diseases, the body attacks its own tissue. It is believed that MS is an autoimmune disease. In the case of MS, myelin is attacked.

Scientists do not yet know what triggers the immune system to do this. Most agree that several factors are involved, including:

    *  Genetics
    *  Gender
   * Environmental Triggers [Possibilities include viruses, trauma, and heavy metals ( toxicology)]


Who Gets MS?

Anyone may develop MS, but there are some patterns.

Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Two-three times as many women as men have MS.  Studies indicate that genetic factors make certain individuals more susceptible than others, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited. MS occurs more commonly among people with northern European ancestry, but people of African, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds are not immune.  Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.



Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person and from time to time in the same person. For example, one person may experience abnormal fatigue, while another might have severe vision problems. A person with MS could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult; another person with MS could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems. While some symptoms will come and go over the course of the disease, others may be more lasting.



In September, 2006, Team SSMEPA joined 1500 riders to raise over one million dollars for the Eastern North Carolina MS Society.  We spent several Saturday mornings together training for the ride.  On September 9th and 10th, eight of us rode a total of 640 miles in two days and two more volunteered their time cheering and decorating the finish line.

This year, Team SSMEPA consists of ten members.   We had a great ride on September  8th.  We rode a total of 780 miles and raised over $3700.  We anticipate that we will continue to receive donations to bring us up to $5 per mile pedaled!

You can still help by making a donation online today!


  Spring Stoops McCullen Engineering, PA  
  3624 Shannon Road, Suite 102  
   Durham, NC 27707  
  919-403-8000 (Phone) ● 919-403-9030 (Fax)