Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Canadian hospitals offer quality healthcare when it comes to treatment and diagnosis. Treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis usually combines alternative and complementary therapies, cognitive and occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and medications. А survey shows that 61 percent of patients in Canada receive a combination of two or more treatments and 39 percent receive one type of treatment. Unfortunately, patients with multiple sclerosis have a shorter life expectancy. MS is a more common cause of death than conditions such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy but less common than diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Research and Focus Areas

A number of research studies focus on areas such as disease progression, disability, cognitive impairment, and loss of brain integrity. Other studies focus on impairment, progressive degeneration, fatigue management, and treatments such as stem cell therapy. Ultimately, the goal is to develop better symptom management therapies, public healthcare policies, and treatment methods.

MS Means

Multiple Sclerosis in Canada

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling inflammatory disease that destroys axons and myelin in the central nervous system. Estimates show that in Canada 1 in 240 - 340 people is affected, which is one of the highest rates on a global scale. According to a report by the Multiple Sclerosis International Foundation and the World Health Organization, only countries such as Hungary, Norway, Germany, and the U.S. have higher rates.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

While the causes are unknown, there are certain risk factors to watch for, including smoking, autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and thyroid disease, and family history. Other risk factors include climate, race, and age. Persons of Native American, African, and Asian origin have the lowest prevalence rates while white people have the highest. People living in countries with mild weather and temperate climate are at a higher risk, including Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada. Age and sex are also risk factors for developing MS. Men are less likely to develop multiple sclerosis. People aged 15 to 60 are usually affected. Other factors include Epstein Bar infection, season of birth, vitamin D deficiency, and so on. Things like traumas, pets, exposure to contaminants and heavy metals, artificial sweeteners, and allergies are not risk factors. Sex hormones, however, may play a role, including hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Some studies show that MS may develop when hormones suppress the immune system.

Speaking of symptoms and signs, the list includes bladder and bowel problems, slurred speech, fatigue, and dizziness. Other symptoms to watch for include pain or tingling, double vision, and complete or partial loss of vision. Some patients also have tremor and weakness or numbness in the limbs. With disease progression some people also experience problems with gait, walking, and mobility in general. Unfortunately, there are patients who develop complications such as epilepsy, mental problems, paralysis, muscle spasms and stiffness, and others.

Foundations and Organizations

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada was founded back in 1948 to support patients, caregivers, and families, offer educational resources, and promote research. Headquartered in Toronto, the society has offices across Canada, including Burnaby, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, London, and elsewhere. Patients, families, researchers, and the general public are offered resources, support, and services, including special equipment and assistance, wellness, social, and recreation programs, self-help and support groups, and referral and information. Recreational programs, for example, take different forms, including summer and day programs, social activities, yoga, swimming, and a lot more. The society also organizes different events such as education programs, workshops, and conferences. Today, there are some 17,000 members, and many of them serve on chapter, division, and national committees and boards.

Private Health Insurance Plans

In Canada, there are different types of private health coverage, including comprehensive, basic, and standard. People often opt for private plans to gain fast access to medical services and treatment. Other benefits include access to specialized care, dedicated support, and the option to decrease or increase the cover, depending on budget considerations, needs, and other factors.

Why Opt for Private Insurance

Many people opt for additional coverage when they face major life changes such as graduating from college or university, getting married, renting or buying a house, getting a new job, or having a child. Other reasons to opt for private health insurance include getting close to retirement age, death in the family, getting divorced, and starting a new business. People who are close to retirement age, for example, often consider things like life expectancy, health issues, monthly income, and final arrangements. Newly married couples often consider factors such as mortgage payments, travel costs, household and utility expenses, and health insurance premiums. There are different types of coverage for people from all walks of life. There are insurance plans for students, families, single parents, retirees, and so on. Many insurance providers offer customized plans that are tailored to meet specific requirements and needs.

Medical vs. Hospital Costs

In general, health plans cover both medical and hospital costs. Medical costs, for example, include things such as fees charged by healthcare professionals, including cardiologists, allergists, audiologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, and so on. Hospital costs include speech and occupational therapy, pharmaceuticals, intensive care, surgeries, and accommodation. There are some exclusions such as personal expenses, including hairdressing, newspapers, and internet access. There are other things comprehensive plans do not pay for, including experimental treatment, respite care, and cosmetic surgeries.


Basic Coverage

Most providers offer coverage for medical services such as annual examinations, paramedical services, laboratory tests, and treatment of injury and illness. Some basic plans also cover postnatal and prenatal care, anesthetics, and treatment of dislocations and fractures. Preventive dental care is also covered, for example, minor extractions, diagnosis and examination, and recall visits. In most cases, there is no coverage for services and treatments such as orthodontics, restorative dental care, over-the-counter medications, fertility treatment, and contraceptives. Some providers feature supplemental healthcare, including in-home care and medical services. Customers benefit from medical services and equipment such as traction kits, diagnostic tests, braces, and durable equipment. Air and ground ambulance services are usually covered. Some plans also have accidental dental benefit.

Comprehensive Plans

Comprehensive health insurance plans usually cover out-patient and in-patient treatment. In-patient treatment includes diagnostic tests and specialists’ and hospital fees while out-patient treatment includes electrocardiograms, scans, X-rays, and consultations with specialists. In-patient services are offered to patients who are admitted to a hospital. Out-patients, on the other hand, are not admitted but only visit a specialist or undergo tests such as scans, pathology tests, or blood tests and go home. Comprehensive plans also cover cancer treatment, palliative care, rehabilitation services, and psychiatric services. Some providers also offer coverage for spinal fusion, surgically implanted prostheses, and dental surgery. In addition, private health providers offer plans that cover cardiac treatment, cataract procedures, and hip and knee replacement.

Extra Coverage

Some insurance providers feature extra coverage and added benefits such as travel vaccines, health management, natural therapies, and osteopathy, chiropractic, and podiatry.


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