McLaren Flint Neurologist Passionate About Treating MS

Author: McLaren Flint

If you’ve had an unexplained illness or health change, your primary care physician may have ordered some tests to determine the cause. If the doctor diagnoses a patient with multiple Sclerosis (MS), which most have heard about, the question remains, how well does the average person understand the condition? For some, their only exposure to MS could be celebrities like Christina Applegate, Montel Williams, and Jack Osbourne announcing they have it.

Multiple Sclerosis is defined as a chronic neurological condition affecting the central nervous system and involving the brain, spinal cord, and sometimes the optic nerves. It can be relatively benign or entirely disabling.  MS occurs when overactive immune cells cause inflammation, which damages the fatty layer of insulation around them called myelin, in turn affecting its role in allowing nerve signals to travel properly from the brain to the body.

The cause of Multiple Sclerosis has remained unknown since it was first named and described by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in 1868. Today, science has yet to show a single cause; instead, the consensus is that it results from a combination of factors. Currently, the Multiple Sclerosis Society says research is targeting the following areas: immunological reaction, viral or other infectious agents, and both environmental and genetic factors.

“I enjoy doing research and have spent many years trying to help crack the MS code,” said Suleiman Kojan, MD, FAAN, a board-certified neurologist at McLaren Flint. “I have taken a special interest ever since I was introduced to MS in my training and learned the number of people living with it and how shocking it was that multiple important questions about the disease remain unanswered.”

Diagnosing MS also cannot be done with one single test. A definitive diagnosis must meet the following strict requirements.

  • Neurological evidence of lesions in at least two distinct areas of the central nervous system 
  • Evidence that the lesions have occurred at different points in time
  • Other diseases that mimic MS must be ruled out.

MS is even more complicated because no two cases are exactly alike. Each person will differ in their symptoms, how often and severe their relapses are, and in the progression of their disease. As with many other chronic illnesses, early detection is key to minimizing the damage MS does to the body and keeping it at bay.

The disease is managed with medications, remaining tobacco-free, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, getting enough sleep, and staying active to stay strong.  

“Fortunately, there are medications and key general health practices that can help manage the disease, said Dr. Kojan. “Despite all the mysteries we have yet to solve around MS, we can do a great deal for patients.

“Among MS patients, the leading causes of death are the same as the general population.  It can be a challenging disease, but a diagnosis is not a death sentence. Patients need to work closely with their neurologist so they can live their best life.”

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