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With the incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) on a rapid rise in Australia, a new educational video resource launches nationally today.

The What is MS? video attempts to demystify and explain a complex, and often at times, invisible disease that now impacts more than 33,000 Australians.

To mark its 50th anniversary year, MS Australia commissioned the video aimed to educate the general public and people living with MS, especially those newly diagnosed. The video covers the causes, different types of MS and common symptoms of a condition that, as of now, has no cure.

While most Australians know that MS means multiple sclerosis, many do not really have a very good understanding about what MS actually is, MS Australia Chief Executive, Rohan Greenland said.

“MS affects everyone differently. People living with MS will sometimes be well one day, and then be quite unwell the next.

Photo courtesy MS Australia

“So it’s really important for employers, for family, carers, and for others in the community to have a better understanding of how MS impacts people living with the condition.”

There was an inherent challenge in trying to explain MS to the general public, said MS Australia President, Associate Professor Des Graham who lives with the chronic neurological disease.

“The public see someone with no visible symptoms and naturally struggle to understand the challenges that individual is dealing with, or incorrectly assume there’s nothing wrong with them.”

Of even greater concern was the lack of understanding extended to areas of government support, such as the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

“Too often, people living with MS are denied the disability support they require and deserve. If you’ve got MS and you’re in a wheelchair, government may provide the support that you require, but if your symptoms are less visible, you are too often left out in the cold,” Associate Professor Graham said.

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The video balances technically accurate 3D modelling and live action recordings to show a real person in everyday scenarios and to bring those symptoms, and challenges to life.

The launch of the video comes in the wake of new prevalence data released by MS Australia in February, which showed the number of Australians living with multiple sclerosis was increasing at a significant rate.

The latest data showed that 33,335 Australians were living with MS in 2021, an increase of 30% (7,728) over the four years since the previous update in 2017 (25,607).

The video is a reminder to government of the urgent need to invest more in MS research.

“With MS on the rise, MS Australia is now doubling its efforts to advocate for greater government investment in MS research, that will bring us closer to treatments that will slow or stop disability progression for everyone,” Associate Professor Graham said.