Buffalo, NY – Dr. Ralph Benedict, an internationally-renown neuropsychologist, has been nominated by Attorney Jeffrey Freedman to receive the Stephanie H. Kelly Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. The award will be given on September 13 at the Marriott Hotel in Amherst as part of the Society’s 2013 On the Move Luncheon.
According to the National MS Society, the On the Move Luncheon recognizes people in the MS movement and honors their commitment to the National MS Society’s mission.
Dr. Benedict is a key member of the Neuropsychology Department at the Jacobs Neurological Institute, where he works with patients in the MS Clinic. He has served on multiple national and international panels regarding the treatment of MS, in addition to presenting for the National MS Society and the Consortium of MS Centers.
Jeffrey Freedman nominated Dr. Benedict for his work with MS patients. “Dr. Benedict is a terrific doctor who helps a great many people with MS lead better lives. He is truly a brilliant and compassionate doctor,” Freedman said.
According to Dr. Benedict, Western New York has a higher incidence of MS cases than other areas of the world. There are between 500,000 and 1 million people affected by MS in the United States. There has not been a definitive reason for the higher rate of MS cases in Western New York, but Dr. Benedict said there are many theories: “Theories range from lack of Vitamin D due to lack of sun exposure to the possible existence of an unidentified antigen. Our climate is similar to Western Europe and Russia, and there are also a lot of cases in these areas.”
MS is a progressive neurological disease in which nerves in the brain and spinal cord are damaged by the body’s own immune system. Dr. Benedict said that the hallmark of the disease is acute episodes where symptoms are present, followed by relapses, where the patient recovers for a time. As the disease progresses, there are fewer relapses. Symptoms vary in patients, ranging from muscle weakness to loss of cognition.
Due to the wide-ranging symptoms of MS, the severity of the disease varies in each person. “Some patients become wheelchair bound. Some have no cognitive impairment, while others experience severe cognitive issues,” Benedict said.
“One of the most important things to realize about MS is that the spokespeople with the disease are often not cognitively impaired. In our practice, we see patients who are psychiatrically disabled due to the effects of MS on the brain. The neuro-degeneration causes loss of cells, similar to an Alzheimer’s patient. That’s the real tragedy of this disease,” he said.