Research Proposal – Multiple Sclerosis

M.S is the shortened version of Multiple Sclerosis. My reason for choosing this topic is that I am very familiar with M.S. My mother was diagnosed nearly ten years ago when I was only eight. My mother’s life has completely changed since. Her lifestyle in general is different. No more late night watching T.V, no more golf, no more spring cleaning, basically everything she did before she is not capable of doing now. It is difficult for us a family to get through but we just take each day as it comes.

M.S is not a contagious disease. MS is a progressive, disabling illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This is an autoimmune disease. A fatty tissue called myelin surrounds and protects the nerve fibres but if the myelin is lost in specific areas scar tissue is left. This scar tissue is ‘sclerosis’. When the cycle is disrupted the electrical impulses are unable to send messages to the brain and this causes the symptoms of M.S. The disruption of nerve signals within the brain and spinal cord causes a variety of symptoms that can affect vision, sensation, and body movements.

People with M.S can expect to be diagnosed with one course of the disease, each of which might be mild, moderate or severe. The four clinical courses of disease according to www.intelhealth.com 2003 are: MS is the most common nerve disease to develop in young people after birth, and it affects more than 1 million young adults worldwide. It is five times more common in temperate climates than in the tropics, and strikes 50 percent more women than men. Close relatives of a person with MS are eight times more likely than the average person to develop the disease themselves, and children of a person with MS have 30 to 50 times the average risk. However, even though genetic (inherited) factors seem to play a large role in the development of MS, no MS gene has been identified so far. Instead, scientists suspect that MS develops because of the influence of several genes acting together.

Symptoms of MS vary depending on which areas of the brain and spinal cord are affected. There are many common symptoms. Symptoms are unpredictable and vary form person to person. Many of the symptoms will disappear but others may then re – appear. Common symptoms include: bladder dysfunction, memory and attention problems, emotion problems, pain, fatigue, difficulty in walking, balance problems and numbness or ‘pins and needles’. Less common symptoms include: headache, hearing loss, itching, seizures, speech and swallowing disorders and tremors.

According to the MS MATTERS MAGAZINE ISSUE 52: The MS Society is pushing for more MS nurses and other MS specialists. Chief Executive Mike O’Donovan outlines progress so far: ‘ WE are very excited to be able to confirm that the Department of Health has just agreed to fund 30 more MS nurses to being practice in 2004. These new nurses will further underpin the Risk Sharing scheme and serve the wider needs of people with M.S. The MS Society’s regional network played a crucial part in making sure that health services throughout the country lodged successful applications for these new MS nurses.’

There are many diets said to benefit people with MS. Bernice Chiswell, senior Dietician at Bedford Hospital comments in the MS MATTERS MAGAZINE ISSUE 52: ‘There is a lot of information about diet and MS, particularly on the Internet. I advise people with MS to be wary of diets. I also advise people to consider balance in their diet. If you leave out major food groups, your diet can be low in vitamins and minerals.’

Some facts I found on the Internet on www.msif.org (Multiple Sclerosis International Foundation 2003) I hope to do primary research to find out if my hypotheses will be true or false. Primary research involves the collection and analysis of raw data through surveys, experiments, interviews etc. The data will then be analysed and the results or findings will then be evaluated. New knowledge should be produced, because I will gather new information through my direct investigation.

Survey research is based upon asking questions of people. This can be in the form of a questionnaire or an intensive one to one interview. Questionnaires are usually a paper and pencil exercise that people complete. The completion of a questionnaire can be carried out through a mail drop or a group activity or as a one to one structure interview. I intend to go into my local triangle area and complete a primary research by using questionnaires. A questionnaire is a method for the elicitation, recording and collecting of information.

The biggest single advantage is by using a questionnaire it will give me feedback from the point of view of the public. If my questionnaire is reliable then my conclusion will be positive. I think cannabis would help people with M.S although, I think when I ask the general public they will disagree. I intend to ask them in my questionnaire, do you think cannabis should be legalised for people with M.S.? My two main reasons for this topic would be because my mother has the condition and the other being there has been a lot in the media, T.V. radio and papers concerning cannabis and M.S.

I chose this hypothesis, as I am interested in finding the public’s opinions concerning the topic. I believe that my hypothesis is a powerful one to ask the public and I hope that in the near future cannabis will be legalised and people with M.S will no longer have to suffer any pain. I will approach the general public and carryout this survey but at all times I will be aware of confidentiality. I want to be careful how I approach this topic, as it is a very serious clinical condition. I have no reason to ask anything personal about their lives and I should be cautious when asking questions.

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