19 Aug How MS Symptoms Can Affect College Students?
College students with MS must deal with a range of symptoms, many of which can have a direct impact on their school performance. “Like many autoimmune challenges, the impact on day to day life is unique to that person,” says Amelia Roberts, a healthcare coordinator who often works with college students with autoimmune challenges.
“Some may have trouble walking long distances. Stairs may be a challenge. Getting to regular treatment and follow ups may be a challenge as well.” But, she adds, “proper planning can help to limit the impact of these challenges.”
Asking for accommodation is usually the first step. “You can get letters that request a variety of accommodations,” says Roberts. “Start the process at your school’s health clinic, Student Life or Disability Office, gathering needed accommodation forms. When in doubt, reach back to your specialty provider office and ask for help. We pride ourselves on supporting students and their families through this transition.”
Once you’ve connected with your school about a reasonable accommodation, here are some additional tips to help manage MS symptoms and lessen the impact on your college experience.
Approximately 80 percent of people with MS have fatigue, making it the most common symptom. MS fatigue is different from the fatigue people experience when they haven’t gotten enough sleep or are feeling stressed. Instead, MS fatigue comes on quickly and is more severe.
In college students, fatigue can interfere with attending classes, staying on top of coursework and studying for exams. Instructors and class peers who are unaware of your diagnosis may mistake MS fatigue for “laziness” and not understand the extent of your fatigue because you may appear to feel normal.
HOW TO HANDLE IT
- Build your support network
While it’s your decision who knows about your diagnosis, it can help to reach out and share it with instructors and friends who can then give you support.
Developing a regular exercise routine with your health care provider is essential for keeping your energy level up.
- Pay attention to your body
Pay attention to symptoms of fatigue and get extra rest when you need it.
- Be kind to yourself
Avoid all-night study sessions that take a toll on the body.
Three-fourths of people with MS have walking difficulties. Factors such as fatigue, sensory deficit, and spasticity (sudden muscle spasms often in the legs) can make it hard to walk. Unfortunately, your classes may be spread out across campus and you may need to navigate stairs to get places.
HOW TO HANDLE IT
- Take advantage of campus resources
Many schools provide on-campus shuttle services for students with disabilities. Check with your school’s Disability Resource Center to see if they provide transportation on campus.
- Work with your health care provider
Your doctor may be able to recommend occupational or physical therapy to help with walking difficulties. There are also medications available to assist with mobility and lessen pain flare-ups.
- Schedule smartly
Plan errands for the times of day that are easiest for you to move around or when you are already out and about.