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Food for thought

Ksenia Zheltoukhova

27 July 2011


Our recent report Ready to Work? Meeting the Employment and Career Aspirations of People with Multiple Sclerosis challenged the researchers at The Work Foundation to explain such complicated neurological condition as multiple sclerosis (MS) to employers and policy makers. We were surprised to find that understanding MS is often not easy even for people living with the condition.

Being diagnosed with MS often comes as a shock, requiring many adjustments to the usual ways of doing things. Walking, reading or writing may be difficult enough; if your doctor uses words like ‘immunomodulatory’ or ‘myelin sheaths’, when explaining MS, managing the condition might become even more of a challenge.

Doctors and MS researchers themselves admit they often forget how to use ‘regular’ words when talking to patients. A web community Shift.ms has been supported by the Wellcome Trust to organise a training programme to make MS-related research more accessible to people with the condition.

A series of workshops taught researchers to engage their communication and interaction skills to avoid complicated terms and express themselves via a range of means and materials. One challenging idea was to deliver a (scientific) presentation using no more than six images – incredible, yet possible.

Last night’s event – Digesting Science – invited neuroscientists from Barts and the London, Queen Mary University to explain their research to people with MS and friends and family supporting those individuals. The scientists were inspired by the shapes and colours of common fruit and vegetables to create tasty models of molecules, medicines and even…eyeballs.

Watch the video here.

Do you still think science is tough? The next Health & Wellbeing report may well feature tomatoes.

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More information about MS can be found on the following websites:

MS Trust: http://www.mstrust.org.uk/

MS Society: http://www.mssociety.org.uk/

Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre: http://www.msrc.co.uk/

Shift MS: http://www.shift.ms