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February 2010
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The Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale, otherwise known as the EDSS, is a famous way of quantifying how much is already disabled in a person with multiple sclerosis. This tool replaced the Disability Status Scales which did as much as grouping people with multiple sclerosis.

The Kurtzke EDSS enumerates the disabilities associated with MS or multiple sclerosis according to the established eight functional systems. This then allows many neurologists to allocate a specific functional system score in each. The functional systems are as follows: pyramidal, cerebellar, brainstem, sensory, bowel and bladder, visual, cerebral, and others.

The Kurtzke EDSS gives two distinctive classifications to two different types of damage due to multiple sclerosis, depending on the severity of the disease’s symptoms. For instance, grades 1.0 up to 4.5 mean people who have multiple sclerosis but are fully ambulatory. On the other hand, those who are graded 5.0 up to 9.5 are those who are impaired in their ambulation.

Its discovery

Dr. Kurtzke established this useful scale back in August of 1955. The scale he discovered was initially called the DSS, which evaluated the impairment associated with MS based on a ten-point scale. And then it was in 1983 that Dr. Kurtzke discovered the EDSS. This latest tool became more famous and much more useful because it could evaluate MS-related impairment in all of the main neurological areas.

Even though the EDSS is not so sensitive when it comes to assessing temporary changes in the person’s level of consciousness, this tool is immensely utilized for not just national but also international tests in evaluating just how effective a certain therapy can be.

The EDSS is predominantly built for assessing the person’s ambulation and not cognition, fatigue or the functioning of the upper extremities.

Its FS Scale

The FS scale or the functional systems scale is important to the EDSS since it assesses and evaluates the seven parts of the central nervous system which have the ability to control the normal functioning of the body. For instance, those who can function normally are graded 0 while those who are unable to finish the assignment are given the grade of 6.

The FS scale of the EDSS is important for those people with multiple sclerosis but can still ambulate since it evaluates where a certain person may have some disability or difficulty.

According to many research findings, the Kurtzke EDSS and a certain scale for the ADL’s or activities of daily living have a symbiotic relationship towards one another. Together, these two scales are able to assess the amount of disability that occurs in multiple domains of functioning, all depending on the person’s subjective report of any of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Although the EDSS is the standard way of finally assessing the amount of disability and impairment, it is still greatly criticized for the putting far too much focus on the use of the lower extremities or the legs and not much attention to the general clinical change.

What are used?

In evaluating the disease status, MRI scans are used by the physicians. However, such diagnostic test is not so correlational with the outcome of the disease, since in multiple sclerosis, majority of the lesions are not seen via the MRI scan. Some even do not have symptoms that can be clinically detected.


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