History of Demyelinating Diseases
The earliest signs of demyelinating disease, specifically MS, were documented from the late thirteen century in St. Lidwina of Schiedam’s biography. Her symptoms included walking difficulties, headaches, and facial paralysis. Augustus d'Este’s was another early case of MS. He showed more identifiable symptoms of MS such as body numbness and bladder and bowel problems. Because the symptoms were so varied and unique, doctors were unable to diagnose them with a single disease.
In 1868, Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurology professor at the University of Paris, linked the symptoms from these accounts to MS. Charcot noticed lesions in the brain and spinal cord, and tremors that accompanied the movement. By testing nystagmus (involuntary eye movements), intention tremors, and speech, he became the first to diagnose MS on a living patient. Though this was not a very accurate diagnosis method, it was an attempt to distinguish MS from other CNS-related diseases.150 years later, his techniques and findings are still implemented in MS diagnosis.
In 1951, Charcot used cortisone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, to treat demyelinating diseases. This treatment helped reduce inflammation but was not a long-term solution. interferon beta medications (“MS Symptoms”). To this day, there is no definite cure for demyelinating diseases.