7 apps that can help those living with multiple sclerosis

There are now smartphone apps available that can help users navigate virtually every aspect of healthcare, from preventative strategies in terms of exercise and diet to chronic disease management. In addition to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, there are now a wide selection of apps available designed for those living with multiple sclerosis. Read on to learn more.

A closer look at MS
As explained by the Mayo Clinic, Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system wrongly targets nerve fibers in the brain and spinal chord, leading them to become damaged and open to deterioration. More specifically, myelin, which is the protective covering around the nerves themselves, is the part of the central nervous system that the condition directly affects. As detailed by Britain's National Health Service, the condition engenders a slew of symptoms, including issues with vision, balance and movement. In essence, anything that relies on the central nervous system can be targeted.

MS can impact anyone, although the National Multiple Sclerosis Society reported that it is most commonly diagnosed in young and middle-aged adults, between the ages of 20 and 50. The source noted that researchers are unsure exactly why people develop the condition. 

Signs and symptoms
In terms of symptoms and prognosis, MS can behave in radically different ways, contingent on the patient. The NHS stressed, however, that MS cannot be cured, only managed, although most patients are able to have similar lifespans to those without the condition. Still, it must be noted that on average MS patients tend to live for slightly less time.

As stressed, MS symptoms vary between patients. For some the condition can be debilitating, while others can enjoy long periods of remission. Some of the most notable symptoms, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Widespread pain and tingling
  • Problems with gait
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Poor bowel and bladder control
  • Problems with walking
  • Weakness, numbness or the sensation of pin and needles in certain parts of the body
  • Double vision
  • Loss of vision

The list above is by no means exhaustive. As stressed, symptoms can vary between individuals. The NHS elaborated that patients will either experience symptoms in specific episodes, with periods of remission in between, or they will experience symptoms that gradually worsen over time. The former type of the disease is known as relapsing-remitting MS, and is by far the most common, affecting roughly 8 in 10 people with the illness.

MS is typically managed with medication, the Mayo Clinic stated, although many patients find that non-medical strategies, such as exercise, massage and yoga, can all make a positive difference.

Smartphone apps that can make a difference
There are a number of apps available that can help those with MS manage their disease. Some of the best include:

1. MS Journal
This app is designed for those patients who need a little extra help staying on top of their medication regimen, Healthline wrote. The platform provides push notifications to remind users when to take their medication. For users who take medication via injections, MS Journal is especially helpful, as there is a place to make a note of what injections where administered and where on the body they were inserted. This app is also a fantastic way for patients to stay connected with their physicians, as it is able to send information about medication adherence directly to care providers. MS Journal is available for the iPhone and costs 99 cents to download. 

2. Momentum Magazine
A lifestyle magazine for those living with MS, containing things such as articles about the disease and health and fitness tips, Momentum Magazine is an official publication of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Everyday Health reported. And now, courtesy of the Momentum Magazine app, the quarterly can be read on smartphones and tablets for free. Momentum Magazine is an invaluable resource and can be accessed on both the iPhone and Android devices. 

3. Einstein Brain Trainer HD
One possible consequence of MS is issues with cognition - particularly learning new concepts and thinking clearly. Regular brain exercise, however, can help mitigate some of these effects. As explained by Everyday Health, the smartphone platform Einstein Brain Trainer HD can help. Available on the iPhone and Android, the app includes many games - 30, to be precise - designed to keep the mind sharp and active. The games can be adjusted in terms of difficulty to meet the needs of each user. More developed versions of the app can be purchased for a small fee, but the basic format is free to download. 

4. Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis
Another multi-purpose app with a focus on lifestyle, Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis is available courtesy of the charity group of the same, an article from Appcessible explained. Available for free on the Android, the platform has everything from recipes to self-help guides and even engaging podcasts.

5. Yoga.com Studio
As previously detailed, certain forms of non-medical intervention are favored by those living with MS - think exercise and eating a balanced diet. One activity that is particularly helpful is yoga, as it promotes both physical and cognitive wellness. And for patients who are reticent to join a class, the Yoga.com Studio platform can help, an article from Move Over MS stated. For a fee of $3.99, users can access yoga programs as well as videos and images of various positions, ranging in difficulty from basic to advanced. 

6. Drugs.com Medication Guide
For patients eager to learn more about their medications and for those thinking of trying something new, Drug.com Medication Guide can be a valuable tool. Everyday Health explained that the app is essentially an encyclopedia with information about all medications available. This app is free to use and can be downloaded on both iPhone and Android.

7. MS Self
This is another that takes a holistic approach, allowing users to stay on top of various aspects of their condition. For example, patients can record their moods or symptoms over a period of time, which makes for handy reference tool during routine checkups with physicians, Healthline reported. Available on the iPhone, the app is free to download. 

Kevin McCarthy's picture

Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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