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Multiple sclerosis: a guide for the newly diagnosed, 2nd edn
  1. Valerie Stevenson

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    By N J Holland, T J Murray, and S C Reingold (Pp 160, US$21.95). Published by Demos Medical Publishing Inc, New York, 2002. ISBN 1-888799-60-9

    This book is an invaluable guide for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as their friends and families. The fact that a second edition has become necessary is extremely encouraging for those involved with MS and highlights the recent therapeutic advances for this still devastating diagnosis. Most people who develop MS are desperate for information about their new disease and many turn to the internet to find this. Unfortunately, they are then faced with misleading or simply incorrect information, which can leave patients confused or disillusioned.

    The authors present detailed information in the first two chapters covering the pathological processes causing the symptoms of MS and the diagnostic tests in use. Uncertainties in both these fields are explained. The next two chapters deal with treatments, including conventional and alternative or complementary therapies; the text is clear about the lack of a cure for MS but discusses all the options including steroids for acute attacks, disease modifying drugs, and symptomatic treatments. There is a whole chapter on the important issues of lifestyle—diet, rest, sexual function, pregnancy, etc—that help patients to control their condition. A further chapter concentrates on the psychological impact of a diagnosis of MS and its effect on relationships. Employment issues are deservedly dealt with on their own, with practical advice on when and how to disclose the diagnosis and the legal implications of disclosure both at work and on application forms such as those for health and life insurance.

    The latter part of the book deals with clinical and research trials in MS that will help patients to understand how trials are designed and why treatments are offered to patients with specific disease types. The many fields in which MS research is ongoing are described and the questions being asked by investigators are well presented.

    The book ends with more practical advice on how to get further information about specific topics; however, this is predominantly aimed at the North American readership with emphasis on the MS societies of the United States and Canada.

    In summary, this is an excellent book, which presents all the facts in a straightforward but sympathetic way. As well as the medical facts about the disease, it is full of practical advice covering all life topics, areas that are often neglected by busy physicians. It is highly recommended to all those whose lives have been affected by this disease.