Our vision is to create a better future for people with multiple sclerosis and their families


The MS Brain Health initiative emerged from the publication of an evidence-based international consensus report, Brain health: time matters in multiple sclerosis.

This report was developed by a group of clinicians, researchers, specialist nurses, health economists and representatives from patient organizations. It describes a strategy to maximize lifelong ‘brain health’ in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and includes recommendations on how to achieve this goal, grouped under three overarching themes.

  1. Minimize delays in diagnosis of MS and in the time to treatment initiation.
  2. Set goals for treatment and ongoing management that will optimize outcomes for every person with MS.
  3. Consult the most robust evidence base possible when making treatment and management decisions.

The MS Brain Health initiative aims to connect with the diverse audiences involved directly and indirectly in MS care to help implement these changes.

The multidisciplinary MS Brain Health Steering Committee guides the initiative’s ongoing strategy for the global dissemination and implementation of the recommendations presented in Brain health: time matters in multiple sclerosis. The Steering Committee includes authors of the original report and representatives from patient organizations.

What is brain health?

The brain is a remarkably flexible organ. If multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity damages tissue in one area, other areas can work harder to compensate.1,2 This extra capacity is known as ‘neurological reserve’, or ‘brain health’, and explains why disease activity may go undetected during the early phase o­f MS. Indeed, cognitive problems may develop before more obvious symptoms of MS appear – sometimes years earlier.3

MS disease activity may continue ‘below the surface’ even when someone is feeling well. Research has shown that, on average, only about one in 10 lesions (areas of acute damage) leads to a relapse.4,5 In addition, other low-grade tissue damage can also be ongoing.6 This means that neurological reserve can be depleted even during periods of remission if disease activity is not kept under control.

Brain health should be valued highly, as it helps people to maintain a good quality of life as they age.7 The MS Brain Health initiative highlights the need to maximize lifelong brain health by making recommendations to monitor and minimize disease activity.


  1. Rocca MA, Mezzapesa DM, Falini A et al. Neuroimage 2003;18:847–55.
  2. Rocca MA, Filippi M. J Neuroimaging 2007;17 Suppl 1:s36–41.
  3. Sinay V, Perez Akly M, Zanga G et al. Mult Scler 2015;21:945–52.
  4. Barkhof F, Scheltens P, Frequin ST et al. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1992;159:1041–7.
  5. Kappos L, Moeri D, Radue EW et al. Lancet 1999;353:964–9.
  6. Filippi M, Rocca MA. J Neurol 2005;252 Suppl 5:16–24.
  7. Farias ST, Mungas D, Reed B et al. Neurobiol Aging 2012;33:1758–68.