ZUG, Switzerland, October 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- New survey research into mobility impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) has revealed a gap between the perceptions of people with MS and their healthcare professionals. According to the survey, over half of healthcare professionals (56%) think their MS patients experience some loss of mobility, while published data reveal that up to 85% of people with MS suffer from impaired mobility.[1],[2]

The survey, commissioned by Biogen Idec, investigated the experiences of MS patients and their care by neurologists and nurses.[1],[3] More than 400 people with mobility issues due to their MS and 180 healthcare professionals from Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom were surveyed.

The findings are supported by two recent pieces of research which have shown that:

- Walking ability, which is a significant component of overall mobility, is insufficiently monitored in MS patients by healthcare professionals[4] - 39% of people with MS and 49% of care partners never or rarely discuss mobility issues with a physician[5]

What is evident from this research is that mobility impairment in the MS population is under recognised as an issue by healthcare professionals. A better dialogue is therefore required between patients and their doctor or nurse, as well as more frequent and more accurate assessments to monitor patients' mobility, said Prof. Shibeshih Belachew, University of Liège, Belgium.

Mobility loss and the impact on quality of life

In addition, the survey underscored the impact of mobility impairment on employment and the social lives of people with MS. Of patients surveyed:

- Almost half (45%) report that their mobility problems had led them to lose friends - Almost three quarters (72%) said their mobility problems had a significant impact on their working lives - Nearly two thirds (64%) reported losing earnings due to MS-related mobility issues - More than a third (37%) admit to having suicidal thoughts due to their mobility challenges[3]

Loss of mobility can have a huge impact on all aspects of life for those living with MS. It has physical and psychological effects that can drastically reduce one's ability to work and contribute to society. We as physicians should provide guidance on how to appropriately manage mobility challenges and help people with MS to continue to lead productive lives and maintain their social, physical and mental well-being, concludes Prof. Belachew.

Mobility impairment can start early after diagnosis

The survey results also highlighted that mobility impairment can begin early in the disease. Nearly one in two (45%) of patients surveyed reported to have experienced mobility issues within the first month following diagnosis.[3]

Early identification and management of mobility issues can help to improve the quality of life of people with MS. MS experts recommend this be done through exercise or physical therapy or by integrating strategies for disease and symptom management.[5] The neurologists and nurses surveyed by Biogen Idec found that patients required their support in finding a physical therapy plan.[1]

About Biogen Idec

Biogen Idec creates new standards of care in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is a global leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative therapies. Patients worldwide benefit from Biogen Idec's significant products that address diseases such as lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the company, please visit http://www.biogenidec.com.

Notes to editor Methodology - Research was conducted by an independent market research company. - The research amongst people with MS was carried out between 4 June 2010 and 29 June 2010 and the healthcare professional research between 7 June - 2 July 2010. Both surveys utilized a rigorous and robust questionnaire development process. The questionnaire amongst people with MS was validated to ensure compliance with ICC/ESOMAR Code on Market and Social Research and the healthcare professional questionnaire was validated against the EphMRA Code of Conduct for International Healthcare Market Research (both of which are European research guidelines). Both questionnaires also followed the Market Research Society Code of Conduct. Please visit http://www.esomar.org, http://www.ephmra.org and http://www.mrs.org.uk for more information - Respondents from the patient survey were recruited via a mix of patient group liaisons and online recruitment. International patient groups were utilized to recruit MS patients. A network of contacts in each country was also approached. The people invited to take part were pre-screened to ensure that they had been diagnosed with MS and fit the criteria for the research. Respondents from the healthcare professional survey were recruited specifically for the purpose of participating in MS research. Before they were accepted onto a panel, their credentials were checked and once on a panel, their response rates were measured and reliability evaluated. Eligible respondents were subsequently contacted to participate in the survey. - The surveys were anonymous and completed online. - The surveys sampled 436 people with MS and 182 healthcare professionals (MS neurologists and MS specialist nurses) from Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. People with MS were selected at random to help ensure a result representative of the overall MS patient population. Healthcare professionals were recruited specifically for the purpose of participating in the survey

[1] Mobility in MS Research: HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL Perspectives. Data on File. Biogen Idec. 2010.

[2] Scheinberg L et al. Multiple sclerosis. Earning a living. NY Stat J Med 1980; 1395-1400

[3] Mobility in MS Research: PATIENT Perspectives. Data on File. Biogen Idec. 2010.

[4] Kesselring J. Disease progression in multiple sclerosis I. Impaired mobility and its impact on limitations of activities and social participation. Eur Neur Rev 2010; 5(1): 56-60

[5] Halper J, Ross AP. Challenges in the treatment of mobility loss and walking impairment in multiple sclerosis. Int J MS Care 2010;12:13-16

SOURCE: Biogen Idec

CONTACT: Claudia Matthes, Biogen Idec, T: +41-79-363-21-88, M:+41-79363-21-88, E: Claudia.matthes@biogenidec.com; Gurjit Hothi / VickySquires, Tonic Life Communications, T: +44(0)20-7798-9900, E:gurjit.hothi@toniclc.com or vicky.squires@toniclc.com