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We are living in a digital age; swiping has become second nature, and almost anything can be found in a single internet search. There are mixed opinions about the many advancements that technology has made over time, but in the multiple sclerosis (MS) space, those advancements have done a lot of good.
Technology in the medical world
Technological advances have impacted the medical world a great deal, of course. But when we look at MS, we have come a long way since it was first identified in 1868.
One very important technological advancement, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has literally changed the way we look at MS. MRI uses high-powered magnets to see inside the human body. Though MRI has been available since the 1980s, it has had many improvements since then.
Stronger magnets are used, which results in better image resolutions for the scans. These higher-resolution scans allow healthcare providers to see disease activity, or lesions, sooner than they could just a few years ago. As a result, more patients can be diagnosed sooner. If MS is detected earlier, patients can start treatment earlier. Today’s MRIs can better detect new lesion activity, which is helpful in terms of monitoring the disease activity in general.
Technology in the mobile world
Technological advances haven’t reached only the medical space—they can be seen in the mobile space as well. New technology has made keeping track of symptoms less of a burden. It has also made many everyday nuances of living with MS, such as scheduling appointments, much easier.
Where can we see this? Well, if most people reached into their bags or pockets, they would pull out a smartphone. It may be a tiny device, but it has more power to it than many people think. There are so many things that your smartphone allows you to do.
You can stay organized with apps, which is great if you ever need to write something down and refer to it later on. You always have a calendar in your pocket with the ability to send reminders to yourself—no more forgotten appointments. And if you have multiple healthcare providers, there’s an easy way to find them quickly: list all of their names as “Doctor ____” in your contacts so that they appear together. For those with vision impairment, there are voice features available, as well as magnification and even a light. Your smartphone can also help you keep track of injections and injection sites, so if you’re on an injectable therapy, you may be able to stay on schedule and know when to rotate sites. The alarm feature can help you stay on schedule, too! And there are many more options on your device to help you work around life with MS. It’s pretty amazing!
Technology in the social world
All in all, it’s clear that technology has made strides in many areas. But by far, its greatest contribution has been the ability to bring communities together. Before the days of devices and social media, finding one other person with MS was challenging. But a large group of people? It wasn’t truly possible—until now.
Today, thanks to technology, there are entire networks out there dedicated to connecting people to others going through similar experiences. Not to mention, helpful support resources that expand across social media platforms (eg, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube).
And in turn, the awareness that society has gained from the social buzz has drastically heightened. When somebody engages with an MS organization or cause by liking or sharing content, then people inside and outside of the MS community can view that content. This means that every single day, more people are learning about MS. And if our society is more informed, then this chronic illness can be de-stigmatized and those with MS can truly feel understood.
So, more people than ever have MS allies. Community used to be just a word. But now, technology has given life to that word.
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