Sunday, 30 June 2019

As a Step Up for MSWA participant, you have the opportunity to not only make a difference to the lives of Western Australians living with multiple sclerosis (MS) but also those living with Stroke, Parkinson's Disease, Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Huntington's Disease and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

Please read below to find out more about these conditions:


MS is the most common degenerative neurological condition diagnosed in young adults. Over 18,000 Australians and more than 2,000 Western Australians live with MS.

Did you know:

  • There is no known cure or cause for MS
  • MS affects the Central Nervous System
  • Three out of four people with MS are diagnosed before they reach age 35
  • Three times as many women are diagnosed with MS than men
  • On average, 16 people are diagnosed with MS every month in Western Australia

There is no typical case of MS. People can experience a wide range of symptoms: they vary from one person to another and from day to day. There are four main types of MS based on how the condition presents and may progress.

Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) - Approximately 85% of people are diagnosed with this. People with RRMS usually experience clearly defined attacks, or relapses, which either present as new symptoms, or an increase in the severity of existing symptoms.

Primary-Progressive - This is a less common type of MS affecting approximately 10%of cases. It is characterised by a gradual, but steady progression of disability from the onset.

Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) - can develop in a person who was initially diagnosed with RRMS.

Progressive-Relapsing - In this relatively rare course of MS, people experience a steady worsening of the condition from the beginning, but with clear attacks and deteriorating neurological function along the way.

Read more information about MS at


A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted.  Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries.  Blood contains oxygen and important nutrients for your brain cells.  Blood may be interrupted or stop moving through an artery because the artery is blocked (ischaemic stroke) or bursts (haemorrhagic stroke).  When brain cells do not get enough oxygen or nutrients, they die. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).

Did you know:

  • Every 10 minutes an Australian has a stroke
  • Over 400,000 Australians have an irregular heartbeat
  • Over 4 million Australians have high blood pressure


Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition which is characterised by both motor (movement) and non-motor symptoms. The symptoms assessed in order to assist with a diagnosis are:

  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Tremor, usually occurring in a limb which is at rest and initially appearing unilaterally (one sided)
  • Muscle rigidity which may not be apparent to the person with the condition but is felt by the examiner (doctor or physiotherapist). This is commonly present in the wrist, shoulder and neck
  • Postural instability, – changes to gait and balance

In addition to these classical signs there are many more aspects of Parkinson’s which may or may not be experienced. These may include communication and swallowing changes.

Did you know:

  • The average age of diagnosis is 65
  • Every hour of every day someone in Australia is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease
  • There are approximately 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s Disease in Australia
  • 1 in 7 people are aged under 40


Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a group of diseases where the nerve cells (neurons) controlling the muscles that we use to move, speak, breathe and swallow, degenerate and die. Without the nerves activating these muscles, they weaken and waste.  People with MND progressively lose the use of their limbs and their ability to speak, swallow and breathe, whilst their mind and senses usually remain intact.  MND is also known as ALS in some countries and Lou Gehrig’s disease in the USA, after a famous baseball player who died from the disease in the 1930s.

Did you know?

  • 2 people are diagnosed with MND daily in Australia
  • 2 people will die from MND daily in Australia
  • The average life expectancy is 2.5 years
  • Approximately 58% of people are diagnosed under the age of 65
  • The ratio of people diagnosed is 60% male to 40% female


Huntington's Disease (HD) is an inherited disease which affects the areas in the brain which control movement, thinking and emotion. It has a slow progression, and symptoms gradually worsen over time. The disease affects men and women alike, occurring at a rate of about 7-10 per 100,000 in most Western countries.

The onset of symptoms can begin at any age, although the average is generally between 30 to 50 years of age. The first symptoms of the disease may be physical eg small involuntary movements or problems with coordination or may be cognitive or psychiatric changes.


Brain injury can occur as:

  • sudden onset – due to trauma, infection, lack of oxygen (eg near drowning or suicide attempts), strokes or drug use
  • slow or insidious onset – from prolonged alcohol or substance abuse, tumours or degenerative neurological diseases

Acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to any type of brain damage that happens after birth. Causes of ABI include conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s, physical injury due to blows to the head, alcohol and drug use, stroke or oxygen deprivation.  The long-term effects of brain injury vary from person to person and are difficult to predict; they can range from mild to profound.  Many people with ABI experience increased fatigue (mental and physical) and some slowing in how fast they process information, plan and solve problems. They may also experience changes in their behaviour and personality, physical and sensory abilities, or thinking and learning.


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Sunday, 30 June 2019

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