Community Views: An Accurate MS Commercial

Are they for real?! Most multiple sclerosis (MS) commercials feel completely disconnected from your experiences of living with the condition.

We wondered how you would improve them, so we turned to MultipleSclerosis.net and asked community members to get creative! We asked our community to fill in the blank: “If you directed a commercial about MS, it would include ___.” 

With more than 300 comments, they had some great ideas! 

Real people with real symptoms

A common complaint with MS commercials is how phony they feel. You want to see real people with MS. An accurate commercial should highlight the challenges and limitations of this disease. 

“Real MS patients, not actors who are mountain climbing or skydiving.” 

“A pile of all the syringes and pills I’ve had to take.” 

“Real people with real symptoms.” 

“The real truth about MS treatments. I’m tired of seeing all the false advertised commercials with happy-go-lucky people doing just fine because of their new miracle treatment.” 

Mobility assistive devices 

The community observed how often mobility devices are missing from commercials. For many, canes, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and handicap parking are part of life with MS. It’d be best to direct a commercial showing the range of mobility with MS. 

“Wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and people walking with no assistive devices.” 

“People in wheelchairs too. Only seeing people walk is not showing the truth behind the disease.” 

The invisible side of MS

Many MS symptoms are not visible, and they are varied. Others do not see the brain fog, pain, overheating, and loss of balance. Accurate commercials would make the invisible visible. 

“Show someone who has MS constantly being told how good they look or how they look healthy. Then show animations on their body where they have constant pain, or show them losing balance or speech while they are home alone.”

“MS is on a continuum and INVISIBLE.”  

“I’d film a handicap space with what appears to be someone without a disability getting out of a car. Have ‘that stranger’ approach the person and get a lesson on invisible disabilities.” 

“The dirty secrets that so many are ashamed of. Brain fog, extreme fatigue, vertigo, searching for words, forgetting the conversation you just had.” 

“Dealing with the heat.” 

The impact on relationships

MS is lonely. Commercials do not show how relationships change. The isolation MS imposes is absent in most TV depictions. This aspect should be apparent in a commercial. 

“The MSer watches all the fun, exciting, physical activity go by.”

“The feeling of loneliness.”  

“Show the truth of how isolating and frustrating this disease is. Every single person I know who has MS has lost friends and relationships with family members because we just can’t keep up with them anymore.” 

Misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis

The path to diagnosis is rarely simple. Commercials should show the many needed appointments. They should highlight how often misdiagnosis happens before MS appears in your chart. 

“An explanation of how some people misdiagnose MS symptoms as other ailments.” 

“Doctor after doctor misdiagnosing.” 

“In a doctor’s office and being misdiagnosed over and over again no matter how many doctors you have seen.” 

A wide range of experiences

There is no one way of having MS. It affects each person uniquely. The community wants the differences acknowledged in commercials. Every experience is valid and needs visibility. 

“Nine boxes (almost like The Brady Bunch), and in each 1 would be someone different. One person in a wheelchair, 1 hiking, 1 slowly walking, 1 in a lot of pain, 1 working, 1 not, etc. Just to show how differently it could affect each person.” 

“All the different faces.” 

“A family sitting around a table explaining MS to children and discussing how mom/dad are feeling on different days. Then show different ways to be supportive: driving to the doctor, making dinner together, playing table games instead of physical activities, taking care of them when completely down for the count.” 

Thank you 

Our community shared wonderfully creative ideas with us about their visions for MS commercials. Thank you to everyone who engaged so meaningfully with this prompt! 

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