Daughter films “emotional” documentary to highlight father’s battle with multiple sclerosis and his pioneering treatment

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

 

A Leicestershire-based film student is aiming to raise awareness of a pioneering new treatment for sufferers of multiple sclerosis by making a documentary all about her dad’s struggles with the disease.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, leading to many symptoms as nerves are damaged. This often leads to significant physical problems, such as muscle weakness.

Student filmmaker Amy King’s father, Andy, discovered he had the degenerative disease two years ago after he began to have difficulties moving. He was told he may never walk again.

“Finding my Feet” will explore the personal impact MS can have on the family of those who suffer from the condition and will look at a new treatment which could mean Andy will be able to keep walking.

She described her experience of the disease as “emotional”, but feels it is important to raise awareness of the condition, which affects 100,000 people in the UK.

The nineteen-year-old, who lives with dad Andy in Newbold Vernon, said: “It’s emotional to see someone you love suffer.

“I was inspired because it’s not a common problem. I didn’t know anything about it until I found out about my dad and it is something which needs highlighting.”

The treatment Andy is receiving is called functional electrical stimulation and works by applying electrical charges to muscles affected by the weakening effects of MS.

Despite having been approved for use by sufferers of MS since the 1990s, FES is being studied to gauge if it may be effective in improving walking distances for patients.

For Amy, anything which may help her dad regain a sense of independence is a positive: “[My dad] is a really independent person. We used to do a lot of sporting activities and it’s hard for us both to not do that together.

“I hope this treatment will improve his quality of life.”

Despite being an approved treatment for MS, FES services are still quite patchy, with Andy having to travel to Selly Oak Health Centre in Birmingham to access the therapy. It is hoped more potential uses of FES could be found to increase funding.

Amy expects the short documentary to be completed this summer and wants to use it to inspire those diagnosed with the disease and give hope to their families.

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