Multiple Sclerosis causes changes in a person’s body that aren’t always conducive to work, thus the need for alternative jobs for people with MS in some cases. Physical symptoms or changes a person experiences during different stages of MS can alter the person’s ability to carry out work-oriented tasks in the same manner as before the diagnosis of MS was given. Sometimes people with MS are able to work in the same place for many years after being diagnosed with MS, but not all are so fortunate.
There are forms of MS that are more progressive than others, which can render a person’s muscles and limbs useless in a short span of time. The faster the disease advances, the more severe the symptoms are and the less they go into remission. During remission periods, individuals with MS are able to go about daily activities with relatively little difficulty. Once a relapse occurs and the symptoms appear in full force, alterations job duties need to be made.
When possible, employers try to adjust the work load and time spent at work to fit the needs of the employee. Sometimes this isn’t possible, say if heavy machinery is involved or tedious tasks that require fine muscle control or long hours. Vocational Rehabilitation specialists might be a good choice in finding an alternative choice of occupation for individuals with MS who can no longer continue with their current job.
How MS Affects Employment
People who are diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting MS tend to be able to continue working in their current position for many years to come. As long as the disease doesn’t cause severe symptoms to arise during the relapse periods, working full-time is usually an option. However, once symptoms begin to take hold on a regular basis, changes in the number of people with MS who are employed are seen.
One study showed that the majority of MS patients had to work less hours, take a leave of absence, or change jobs entirely. The only way to continue working often required the use of disease-modifying treatments or drugs used to manage symptoms. Supportive family members and employers enable people with MS to remain working as long as possible. The largest factor in causing changes in jobs for people with MS is the presence of fatigue. The second largest is the lack of mobility that comes along with MS. Eventually, MS wins and work must be severely cut back or quit altogether.