COVID and Multiple Sclerosis: Added Challenges
The American Psychological Association recently published a new study about how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically affected those with disabilities. The study shows that stress and trauma have increased for this community, more so than for those who are not disabled.
Healthcare Access and Care
In any kind of national or local emergency, those with disabilities are often rightly worried about ensuring they are able to get the physical care they may need. Given that COVID was an unprecedented experience, that stress was heightened as the uncertainty around the country expanded.
Groups like the International Disability Alliance and the U.S. Office for Civil Rights have made it clear there wasn't a proper response to COVID for those with disabilities and have reminded folks that discrimination is never justified.
It's vital for those with MS to continue to receive the care they need and COVID has made that harder due to extremely upgraded restrictions in healthcare offices. Disability-focused website The Mighty conducted a survey of over 13,0000 people and 75% of them said COVID had affected their access to healthcare in some way.
Psychological Effects of COVID on Those with Disabilites
In addition to the physical barriers to care, those with MS and other disabilities have suffered from the mental toll of isolation. Having a supportive community can be extremely helpful in dealing with a debilitating disease. Lack of access to the communities and individuals that benefit them has taken a toll. Certainly, this has affected all populations, but for those with MS and other disabilities, the studies show the impact has been greater.
Scholar Emily Lund headed up one of the studies on this, saying:
“As disabled people and scholars ourselves, we noticed that the disability community, including disabled people with multiple marginalized identities, were being uniquely impacted by the pandemic, and that their stories were often being pushed to the side. We wanted to document what our communities are experiencing.”
Economic Struggles for the Disabled During COVID
Another stressor? Finances. The country has struggled economically nationwide, but those with disabilities may have taken a hit more than others, as they are three times more likely to be unemployed, according to the research.
Racial minorities and those with multiple disabilities are likely to be affected the hardest, given racial inequity in the healthcare system, and the amount of care those with more disabilities may require. The mental toll of these combined aspects is hitting people suffering from MS in heartbreaking ways.
Check out this video from the research authors about what people with disabilities can do during COVID-19:
Want to hear from experts on this? We've been interviewing some of the top doctors in MS. Check out what they have to say about a variety of issues! Here are some of the latest interviews: