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Young MS sufferers get help online

PUBLISHED: 11:05 12 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:40 03 July 2010

A website to support the “Facebook generation” of multiple sclerosis sufferers has been set up with the help of a Norfolk doctor.

Shift.ms is a social networking site which allows people affected by the neurological disease to chat, share advice and even post videos of their experience.

A website to support the “Facebook generation” of multiple sclerosis sufferers has been set up with the help of a Norfolk doctor.

Shift.ms is a social networking site which allows people affected by the neurological disease to chat, share advice and even post videos of their experience.

Dr Simon Shields, a consultant neurologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, helped set it up alongside MS sufferer George Pepper, 26, from Leeds, after recognising a need for young people with the illness to interact with each other.

He said: “MS is the most common serious neurological condition that we diagnose in young people and the age of diagnosis averages at 29.

“One major benefit of this site is that it is designed with young people who are using the internet a lot. I am keen that young people with MS are aware of the site and the benefits it can offer.”

The site already has hundreds of registered users including John Seton, from Cromer.

The father of one was diagnosed with MS four years ago at the age of 26 and said he could have done with a resource like Shift.ms earlier on.

He said: “I felt like I was on my own. I never heard of anyone being diagnosed at my age. If this was available when I was first diagnosed it would have helped me come to terms with it. It took me a year to get my head around how my life was going to change.”

The 30 year old's condition means he is often very tired, has problems with his balance and has numbness in his limbs. He said: “It's like I'm touching things wearing gloves all the time.”

He has used the site to read about people's experiences and finds it reassuring that others are in the same situation.

His wife Melanie, 29, has also found it useful. Mr Seaton said: “It's not just for my benefit. She's been caring for me. She's going on under my log-in and having a look at other people's comments.”

But like the many other users of Shift.ms, Mr Seton, who has a five-year-old son, Jack, has not let his condition hold him back. A keen musician, he is in the process of setting up a new band and completed a parachute jump last year, raising £12,000 for the MS Trust.

The website can be visited at www.shift.ms.


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