BALTIMORE (WJZ) — About 2.5 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis, about 10 percent of them in America.
Hopkins Hospital is one of the largest MS clinical and research centers in the world.
Mike Schuh reports two people who battle the disease every day say there is cause for optimism.
Kathy Volk used to be principal at Timonium Elementary. Now she spends some of her days with her doctor, Scott Newsome, trying to outfox her multiple sclerosis.
The nerves of the body are a lot like electrical wire. In patients with MS, their bodies begin to attack not only the insulation around the wire, but the wire itself.
Schuh: “Are you well enough that you can work?”
Schuh: “But you look well enough.”
Volk: “That question drives me crazy because I know I look OK, but you have no idea how I feel and most people who have MS say this all the time: that we look fine but it’s what’s going on behind the scenes.”
For Volk, the battle is personal. Her feet and legs are numb. She doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to walk.
For her doctor, it’s also personal. His mother was a MS patient.
“I think some of my experiences with my mother have helped at least to engage the patients about some of their experiences, so I do think it’s helped,” said Newsome.
Research at Hopkins and elsewhere is producing good results. Some medicines already keep MS patients like Volk from getting worse.
“For people like Kathy, the damage has been done. We want to give them a medicine that will reverse that damage to help them function better,” said Newsome.
Volk’s meds keep her where she’s at, but she is pushing to get research funded to find a breakthrough.
“So I’ve made it my life’s mission to find out what’s going on,” said Volk.
“We need more research…so we can cure this disease,” said Newsome.
About 10,000 people in Maryland have MS.