Matzie leads effort designating March 5-11 as ‘Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week’ in Pa.

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – Relating how his family was affected by the disease, Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today urged increased awareness of Multiple Sclerosis with unanimous adoption of his resolution designating March 5 through March 11 as “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” in Pa.

“If you have lived with it – as I have with my father – you would want to do all you can to put a stop to this disruptive, chronic and unpredictable disease,” said Matzie, who thanked the House for its support for H.R. 59. “While environmental and genetic factors have been linked to MS, no specific cause has been discovered and there is no known cure.”

Matzie, who introduced the legislation with his fellow co-chairman of the House MS Caucus, state Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-Bucks, said his father’s vision problems were misdiagnosed for decades.

“Misdiagnoses and misunderstandings are tragic aspects of the neurological disease, which is detected in about 200 people every week,” Matzie said. “Early symptoms that come and go may be ignored, harming patients and disrupting families from top to bottom.”

Matzie said MS affects at least twice as many women as men.

“Women between ages 20 and 40 are especially at risk,” said Matzie, who explained that MS manifests itself in various ways, including fatigue, weakness, balance problems, paralysis, blindness and depression.

“MS isn’t fatal, and it isn’t contagious, but it does affect the lives and lifespans of sufferers and hurts their loved ones because of the disease’s often mysterious relapses,” Matzie said. “Life expectancy for people with MS has increased over time because of treatment breakthroughs and improved healthcare and lifestyle changes, but we still have much more to learn about the disease.”

Matzie urged fuller understanding of MS through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website -- www.nationalmssociety.org – and raising funds and awareness through events like Walk MS and Bike MS.

“It is our hope that by taking one week – March 5 through 11 – to focus on MS will ignite a comprehensive and ceaseless response to this disease,” Matzie said.