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A woman with multiple sclerosis is hoping a video showing her experiencing an episode of severe tremors will help raise awareness of the neurological disease.
The 27-second clip shows Kate Langwine-Cooke of Wales having an attack on her sofa. Her right arm shakes severely as she starts to lay down on her side. Once her head touches some propped-up pillows, the tremors appear to make her entire torso convulse. The camera then falls to the floor.
“The not so 'invisible' side to my MS, this lasted about 25 mins,” Langwine-Cooke wrote on the caption to the video she posted to her “Invisible Illnesses” Facebook page. “Obviously I didn't know the camera had fallen once my legs began to tremor too, these 'attacks' are brutal and are completely draining - I won't let it beat me though. Refuse to Lose!”
Langwine-Cooke said in a separate video posted days later that she’s had longer attacks, including one that left her convulsing for three hours.
“In the grand scheme of things, 20 minutes, 25 minutes, whatever it was, isn’t the end of the world, but it would be terrifying for most people,” she said in the follow-up video. “It’s terrifying for me because a lot of time I’m aware of what’s going on, but I’m absolutely, completely unable to move at will. I can’t do anything.”
Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the body’s immune system gets confused and attacks the brain and spinal chord, said Dr. Robert Fox, staff neurologist at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
That means the condition can affect everything from limb sensation, to vision and hearing, bowel, bladder and sexual functions, mood and cognition, he said.
“Basically, everything you think of doing is done through your brain and spinal chord, MS can disrupt any one of those functions,” he said.
More than 2.3 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis, and women are two to three times more likely to develop the condition than men, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Former “Sopranos” actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler recently revealed she has been living with multiple sclerosis for nearly 15 years. In an exclusive interview Wednesday with TODAY, she expressed relief at going public and said she hopes the disclosure will bring awareness about MS and “change people's ideas of what this disease is.”
Fox said MS symptoms typically “wax and wane over time,” with patients experiencing marked problems or dysfunction — such as numbness on one side of the body or a loss of vision out of one eye — for several weeks to a month before improving and going through a relatively normal period.
MS does not have a cure, but medication can help treat and prevent attacks from occurring. But those medications can't fix areas in the body already damaged in past episodes, he said.
Fox said the attention Sigler has brought to multiple sclerosis is helpful in "getting it out from under the covers" and having people recognize the different ways it can impact patients.
"It’s important to realize that most patients with MS can continue having a highly productive and functional life," he said.
While many people think of individuals with multiple sclerosis as disabled and while some may rely on wheelchairs or walking aids, "we also have a lot of MS patients who are highly active and are very productive in whatever they’re doing at work or at home," he said, citing the wife of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"Ann Romney is a great example of someone who is very successful and is a great contributor to our society who has MS and works through the symptoms," he said.
Romney, who has been very public about her battle with the disease, wrote about her struggles last year in a memoir that benefited the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter at @eunkim.