Avera Medical Minute: MS Awareness - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: MS Awareness

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Kirsten Baloun was diagnosed with MS in 2002. Kirsten Baloun was diagnosed with MS in 2002.

400,000 Americans are living with Multiple Sclerosis. It's a chronic unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. There's a group of people living with MS, but are taking a proactive approach to slowing its progression.


What hand weights may add to your workout, tennis balls work wonders at NeuroFit.  An exercise program offered at Dow Rummel Village in Sioux Falls specifically designed for people with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease or any other neurological disorder. It focuses on stretching and loosening joints, balance and coordination, facial and vocal exercises.


38 year old Kirsten Baloun has MS and has been coming to NeuroFit twice a week for a year and a half. Her symptoms started with double vision when she was 20, but wasn't diagnosed until 12 years later in 2002.


Kirsten says, "I had double vision, balance issues, fatigue, numbness and optic neuritis. I would go blind in one eye for 3 or 4 months and it would be an ongoing pattern of these things so when I finally got diagnosed I was relieved. It was validation because I knew something was wrong."


Kirsten's face went numb in 1997. I asked her if she could feel if someone kissed her on the cheek. She says she can because it's a wide enough area, but she can't feel a pinprick.


Avera Neurologist Dr. Karen Garnaas with Neurology Associates says, "The immune system attacks the brain, spinal chord or optic nerves There are periodic times when the inflammation results in disability.  In addition to living with motor disabilities of MS, they often experience fatigue so there is a silent disability they are dealing with too. You could see someone who looks perfectly fine on the outside, but are suffering with a chronic illness on the inside."


Karen says, "The class helps build confidence in your body. When you have MS you might have a flare up and things don't work right and then later you tend to protect what wasn't working right, you stop using it. So you might quit using your legs effectively so you shell up. This class teaches you to stretch back out. It has absolutely helped me."


MS affects everyone differently so it makes sense the progression of the disease is different in everyone.  what is the same is the drive in all of these folks to stay active mentally and physically for as long as they can. Something we all should take note of.


On a side note, not only is Kirsten living with MS, she's also a breast cancer survivor. She had a double mastectomy in September of 2008 and yet her positive attitude never waivers.

The first week of March is MS Awareness Week.


If you are interested in signing up for NeuroFit Contact Tracey Hughes Wellness Director at Dow Rummel (605) 575-0199

or email her at: traceyhughes@dowrummel.com 


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