Driving and MS
Driving is an important part of independence. Being able to drive allows you to go nearly anywhere you want, whenever you want to.
For people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, however, driving can quickly become challenging and dangerous. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that targets and destroys the nerves and muscles within the body.
MS effects the way sufferers go about driving in their daily life. The damage that MS causes the nerves of the body often results in poor communication between the nerves and the spinal cord. The result of this includes cognitive problems such as weak, stiff, or spastic muscles, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, fatigue, problems with balance and mood, and coordination issues.
When a person is behind the wheel, they rely heavily on coordination and vision, both of which are affected by MS. MS can make it difficult to open or close car doors, push or release the gas pedal, or hold onto the steering wheel. The fatigue associated with MS can cause the driver to become drowsy while driving.
Since MS also affects cognitive functions, MS suffers may find themselves having slowed reaction time and losing focus.
The biggest risk for MS patients are the visual problems that can come with the disease. Although driving requires coordination and concentration, it is a task that needs constant visual attention. When an MS suffering individual has a hard time seeing the road properly, he or she becomes a danger to other road users, pedestrians, and themselves.
If you have MS and are suffering from any of the mentioned symptoms, speak to your health care provider. He or she will be able to asses you and work with you to try and figure out a system that will allow you to drive safely again.
Some sufferers who are assed are found to be unfit to drive and are asked to forfeit their licenses. This is the worst case of scenario, and even though it sounds like a loss of independence, it can also be a great relief as those who lose their license don’t have to worry about having an MS flare up on the road.