Top Multiple Sclerosis Organizations Dedicated to Finding a Cure

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complicated neurological disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, leading to symptoms like severe fatigue, painful sensations, paralysis, depression, and bowel and bladder problems. Unfortunately, despite ample research, experts have not yet found the precise "why" behind MS—and this elusiveness surrounding its cause has made it difficult to find a cure.

That said, the good news is that through intensive research, awareness, and education, many people are living well with MS and their disease process has been slowed by the emergence of several new disease-modifying therapies. Yet, despite these incredible advances, more work still needs to be done. Here are the leading organizations that remain committed to creating better lives for those with MS and ultimately finding a cure for this debilitating and unpredictable disease.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society (NMSS) was founded in 1946 and is based in New York City, although it has chapters scattered throughout the country. Its mission is to end MS. But, in the meantime, this prominent non-profit organization aims to help people live well with the disease by funding research, providing up-to-date education, raising awareness, and creating communities and programs that allow people with MS and their loved ones to connect and improve their quality of life.

Get Involved

A major goal of the NMSS is to promote togetherness among people with MS and their family members, friends, and co-workers—a team approach to finding a cure, so to speak. There are a number of events sponsored by the NMSS throughout the country that you and your loved ones can get involved with, like participating in a Walk MS or a Bike MS event or by becoming an MS Activist.

Resources

Research and education programs are two big resources of the NMSS. In fact, the society has invested over $974 million in research to date and is very candid in supporting research that is not simply interesting, but that will change the face of MS for the better.

Some exciting research programs supported by NMSS include investigations into the role of diet and nutrition in MS, stem cell therapy, and how the myelin sheath may be repaired to restore nerve function. In addition to research programs, other valuable resources provided by NMSS include an online support community and the MS Connection Blog.

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1970. It's main goal is to provide services and support for the MS community.

Get Involved

One way to get involved with MSAA is to become a "street squad member," which means that you spread the word about the Swim for MS fundraiser and raise awareness about MS. This can be done virtually (through social media) or by talking with community businesses and organizations.

Resources

The website for MSAA is user-friendly and offers numerous educational materials. One moving resource is their Changing Lives Monday to Sunday video which reveals how MSAA specifically helps those living with MS (for example, providing a cooling vest for a woman whose MS flares with heat exposure).

Also, an especially useful resource is their My MS Manager phone application, which is free for people with MS and their care partners. This innovative app allows people to track their MS disease activity, store health information, create reports about their daily symptoms, and even securely connect to their care team.

Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis

As a patient-founded non-profit organization, the mission of the Accelerated Cure Project for MS (ACP) is to rapidly drive research efforts to find a cure. 

Get Involved

Besides donations, there are a few other ways to get involved with this group including:

Resources

Interestingly, the ACP contains a huge collection (over three thousand) blood samples and data from people living with MS and other demyelinating diseases. Researchers can utilize this data and then send back the results to ACP from their own studies. The purpose of this shared database is to most efficiently and quickly find a cure to MS.

Also, there are ACP resources that promote collaboration and a coming-together-of-others within the MS community, including the MS Discovery Forum and the MS Minority Research Network.

MS Focus: The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) was founded in 1986. The initial focus of this non-profit organization was to provide education to people with MS on optimizing their quality of life. Over time, MSF also began offering services to people with MS and their loved ones, in addition to delivering quality educational resources.

Get Involved

One exciting way to get involved with MS Focus (if you have MS) is to consider being an MS Focus Ambassador. In this program, ambassadors raise awareness about MS within their own communities, organize and lead fundraisers, and help link those with MS and their care teams with the services provided by MS Focus. People interested in this program must first apply and, if accepted, will receive special training to teach them about their role.

Another way to get involved (whether you have MS or not) is to request an awareness kit from MS Focus during the National MS Education and Awareness Month in March. This free kit is mailed to your home and contains educational materials to help raise awareness about MS within your community.

Resources

The MSF provides numerous educational resources, including an MS Focus magazine, audio programs, and in-person workshops. It also helps those with MS live well with the disease by providing support groups as well as partially funded exercise classes like yoga, tai chi, water fitness, horseback riding, and bowling programs. 

Furthermore, the Medical Fitness Network is a partner of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. This network is a free online national directory that allows people with MS to search for wellness and fitness experts in their area.

Can Do MS

Can Do MS, formally the Jimmie Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, is a national non-profit organization that empowers people with MS to view themselves and their lives beyond their disease. This foundation was created in 1984 by Olympic skier Jimmie Heuga, who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 26. His "whole-person" health philosophy, which entails optimizing not only physical health but also one's psychological health and overall well-being, is a primary mission of Can Do MS.  

Get Involved

The main ways to get involved with Can Do MS is to host your own fundraising event, promote the foundation's educational programs that focus on exercise, nutrition, and symptom management, or donate to the foundation directly or to the Jimmy Huega Scholarship fund. 

Resources

Can Do MS offers webinars on a variety of MS-related topics, like disability claims, insurance problems, caregiving challenges, and living with MS pain and depression. It also offers unique in-person educational programs, like a two-day TAKE CHARGE program in which people with MS interact with others, their support partners, and a medical staff of MS experts while sharing personal experiences and learning about healthy lifestyle habits.

Rocky Mountain MS Center

The Rocky Mountain MS Center's mission is to raise awareness for MS and to provide unique services for those living with the condition. This center is based at the University of Colorado, which is one of the largest MS research programs in the world.

Get Involved

If you live outside of Colorado, you can become an evergreen partner, where you make monthly deposits to support the center. Or you can consider donating your old car to Vehicles for Charity.

If you live in Colorado, you can form your own hiking team and get involved with Multiple Summits for MS, attend the center's annual gala, or become a member of the Young Professionals Network.

Resources

The Rocky Mountain MS Center provides a number of educational materials, not only for those with MS, but for their families and caregivers too. Two notable resources include:

  • InforMS: A free, quarterly magazine available in print or digital that provides the latest on MS research as well as psychosocial information for those living with MS
  • eMS News: A newsletter that provides up-to-date MS-related research trials and results

The Rocky Mountain MS Center also offers complementary therapies, like hydrotherapy, Ai Chi (water-based Tai Chi), as well as counseling, disability assessment, MS ID cards, and an adult day enrichment program for caregiver respite.

A Word From Verywell

MS affects people uniquely, which is why coping with the disease and managing its symptoms can be a complex task. In other words, no two people have quite the same MS experience.

That said, as MS organizations continue to fight for a cure and provide services that help people live well with their disease, it's important to remain resilient in your own MS journey.

Sources:

Birnbaum, M.D. George. (2013). Multiple Sclerosis: Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment, 2nd Edition. New York, New York. Oxford University Press.

Ziemssen T. Symptom Management in Patients With Multiple SclerosisJ Neurol Sci. 2011 Dec;311 Suppl 1:S48-52.

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