Monthly Archives: April 2016

What’s an OCT?

OCT was new to me.  When I read, in the MS Connection newsletter, about a test that might show some of what an MRI shows, but without having to slide into that tight tube, I had to investigate further.

OCT, or optical coherence tomography, uses light waves to take a picture of your retina.  You’ve probably had one during an eye exam. It’s that test where they put drops in your eyes, you rest your chin on a support and the doctor scans your eye without touching it. Opthamologists have used OCT for years to help them diagnose eye diseases such glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.

Now, there’s some evidence that what an OCT can see on the optic nerve behind the eye might mirror what an MRI sees on parts of the brain.  Specifically, research is indicating that the rate of tissue thinning of the optic nerve seems to match the rate of brain deterioration shown on an MRI.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the less-uncomfortable, and much less expensive, OCT could replace the MRI to track MS progression, at least for some of us?

This study was published in the November, 2015 issue of Annals of Neurology.



Segway + Wheelchair = Ogo

Why didn’t someone think of this long ago?

The “Ogo” is the coolest thing I’ve seen for getting around when your legs can’t do the job. And you don’t need your arms, either.  Just bend in the direction that you want to travel, just like riding on a Segway, and off you go.


You can even change tires and travel off-road…through the woods or down the beach. The prototype can travel more than 20 miles (40 km) on one charge of its lithium-ion batteries and its adjustable speed can hit 12 mph (20 kph).   I can tell you more but a video of this is worth a thousand words.

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Can Lipoic Acid Help M.S.?

Lipoic Acid is an antioxident that’s been used in Germany to treat some diabetes symptoms; including numbness, pain and burning of legs and arms.  Do those symptoms lipoic acidsound familiar?  Similar to some of our Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, right?

A small study led by Rebecca Spain, MD, MSPH,  from the VA Portland Healthcare System and Oregon Health and Science University looked at using Lipoic Acid as an inexpensive M.S. therapy. The results were encouraging.  MRIs showed a reduction in brain atrophy in patients who took 1200 mg of Lipoic Acid each day for two years.  Investigators report these patients also showed a trend toward increased walking speed and a decrease in the number of falls.

The study, presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, only involved 51 patients, so larger studies of Lipoic Acid’s use as an M.S. treatment are still needed.


M.S. Help from an Over-the-Counter Drug?

Could an over-the-counter drug, used to treat sniffles, help ease M.S. symptoms and maybe even repair myelin?  Maybe…someday.

The drug is clemastine fumarate, a  common antihistamine used to treat cold and allergy symptoms.  In a small, preliminary study involving M.S. and optic neuropathy, (damage to the nerve that sends info from the eye to the brain), participants who took clemastine fumarate showed what the study terms a “modest” improvement in their vision.clemistine fulminate

“This study is promising because it is the first time a drug has been shown to possibly reverse the damage done by MS,” says the author of the study, Ari Green, MD of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “(The) findings are preliminary, but this study provides a framework for future MS repair studies.”

Don’t expect anything to come of this soon but, as Dr. Green indicates, it may prove to be one more step toward reversing M.S. damage.




When I travel people frequently stop and ask me about the little scooter that I use.  It’s small, light and fast so I’m not surprised to hear “where did you get that?”travelscoot_classic

It’s called a TravelScoot, weighs just thirty five pounds and  folds up like a baby stroller. My little scooter has been on trains (Amtrak), boats (Oceania Cruise Lines) and planes (half a dozen airlines).  Of course, it’s also a regular companion in my car.  I happen to drive an SUV but it can fit in the trunk of even a small car.

I’ve ridden my TravelScoot in about a dozen countries since I got it about four years ago.  Its lithium-ion battery easily lasts through a day of touring and it’s toured through some rough territory including Rhodes, Greece and the ancient ruins of Ephesus in Turkey.

When flying I ride the scooter right to the plane’s door.  I just remove the battery (it’s only five pounds) and store it in the overhead compartment, which is a requirement of every airline I’ve flown.  The body of the scooter is taken down to the bagfolding-mobility-scooter-folded-compact-travelscoot-bgage compartment, usually without removing the seat or having to fold the scooter. After we land it’s brought back up to the plane door and off I ride.  Once, when flying business class on an overseas trip, the cabin crew suggested that I fold it up and store it in the coat closet.  Fine with me!  (If you do “gate check” it be sure that it’s tagged with a gate check “return to aircraft door” tag and that you get a receipt).

Going through airport security has never been a problem, though it takes an extra few minutes as they swipe one of those explosive-sensitive pads all over it.

I’d been concerned that the lithium-ion battery would be a problem because they’ve been known to overheat and cause fires.  But the F.A.A. in the U.S. and all of the airlines have guidelines for these batteries which the TravelScoot batteries meet.  In fact, the batteries are labeled with their amperage and a “Meets FAA Guidelines” statement and no airline employee has ever shown a bit of concern.

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