Specialist Nurse Claire Reidy is currently supporting a series of research trials into Multiple Sclerosis (MS), funded by the Yorkshire Brain Appeal – a linked charity of Leeds Hospitals Charity.

MS is a neurological condition that affects the Central Nervous System (CNS), which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.

As the CNS links everything your body does many different symptoms can appear in MS. The specific symptoms that appear depend upon which part of the CNS is affected and the job of the damaged nerve.

Claire’s role with the Neurology Research Team is entirely funded by charity contributions. She assesses patients’ eligibility for a trial before recruiting them and builds relationships with her patients throughout the trial. Claire says she feels privileged to get to know them and their families.

She said: "The commitment and willingness of patients to support studies - which are sometimes unlikely to change anything for them - but may have the potential to change outcomes for others like them in the future, is humbling."

One of Claire’s patients is Camilla Veale, who was diagnosed in 1998 with secondary progressive MS. Camilla said: "Claire was so professional and yet such fun as part of the STAT 2 drug trial for Progressive MS.

"She really made me feel my involvement in the Trial would make a difference to MS research and also gave me very helpful advice about my own health issues throughout the three years of the trial.

"Being part of a trial has other ‘perks’ - it means I get to see the clinicians more. I feel like I have special support through additional monitoring and observations. I find this reassuring, while at the same time know that I am contributing to developments for others in the future - even if it’s not me that will benefit directly. 

"There’s not much research out there about secondary progressive MS, so it’s important to me that I contribute where I can."

In spite of the effects of the disease, Camilla has seized every opportunity available to her including pursuing and achieving her skipper qualification, walking and racket sports.

Camilla said: "My right side has been affected more, which has affected my handwriting and simple things like doing up buttons and I’m conscious that I might not always be able to drive in the future.

"Thinking about the future can be frightening, the progression of my MS has been gradual and ultimately there is no cure. But I have a fantastic wife and family, I keep busy and focus on the present as much as I can. My latest ambition is to learn to fly and I am doing just that! I will continue to take part in studies and research, keep positive and live in the here and now!"

Research is fundamental to advancements to treatment and care for patients with complex conditions. The more staff who can be funded, the more studies that can be supported, and the more likely we are to see discoveries that will change the outcomes for patients in Leeds and West Yorkshire as well as globally.

The Yorkshire Brain Appeal is a linked charity of Leeds Hospitals Charity dedicated to funding research into brain diseases. In Leeds we see around 9,000 new Neurology patients every year.  Conditions include Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Epilepsy and Migraine as well as others and can affect patients in many different ways.