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Actress Selma Blair Drops From Dancing Competition Due to Multiple Sclerosis

October 20, 2022

After several weeks of performance, the rigors of competing in the reality show “Dancing with the Stars” proved too much for actress Selma Blair, who has multiple sclerosis (MS).

Blair said that MRIs showed that “it’s way too much for the safety of my bones,” during an interview with CNN.

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Understanding MS

MS is an autoimmune disease affecting the brain and spinal cord. When it occurs, it disrupts the brain’s communication with other parts of the body. Its cause is unknown, but scientists have identified genetic and environmental risk factors for the condition.

Blair first announced her diagnosis in 2018 and shared her experience with MS – including stem cell treatment and chemotherapy – in the documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair.”

The physical toll

MS can impact a person’s strength and ability to engage in intense physical activity, explained Brian Wong, MD, an MS specialist with the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute Multiple Sclerosis Center.

“Strenuous physical activity can make MS symptoms more prominent. Some individuals are temperature-sensitive and can experience an increase in symptoms when they engage in vigorous physical activity. This occurrence is known as Uhthoff’s phenomenon,” Dr. Wong said.

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What are the symptoms?

Common MS symptoms which can worsen during physical activity include:

  • Fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Muscle spasms, stiffness and weakness
  • Mobility problems
  • Pain

Living with MS

Dr. Wong added that people with MS, in general, should not fear exercise. Blair’s experience on “Dancing with the Stars,” he stressed, is particularly challenging.

“Symptoms triggered by physical activity generally resolve after resting and cooling down,” he said.