Australain-First Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Comic Book for Children Launches to explain in a way they understand

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In the lead up to World MS Day (27 May 2015) and to coincide with Kiss Good Bye to MS in May, global children’s healthcare education brand Medikidz – in collaboration with MS Australia and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN) – is launching an Australian-first educational comic designed to explain complex medical information about MS in a format that children will understand and engage with.

In Australia there are over 23,000 people living with MS and 1 in 20 people are touched by MS through a family member, colleague or friend living with the condition. This can be a frightening occurrence for all involved, particularly for children who may not understand what is happening to those around them.
The comic book, titled “Medikidz Explain Multiple Sclerosis – What’s up with Mum? is based on an Australian family. The stars of the comic book are mother and daughter duo Alex and Kate Aylward from Perth. Alex has been living with MS for the past 20 years and it has affected mobility in her legs. Her daughter Kate is 12 years old and lives with her mum, dad and two older brothers.

Alex is proud that Kate can share her story in the comic book: “I feel really honoured that Kate was asked to be in it and I think she felt kind of chuffed too knowing it was about her. It is really informative and I think it will definitely help children understand more about MS and to not be so frightened of it.”
Reviewed by Australian medical professionals in the field of MS*, the comic book is an innovative resource for Australian parents with MS, enabling them to talk to their children about the symptoms in a simplified way.

Alex continues: “Being in comic form is really appealing as it’s very easy to read and looking at the pictures. I wish something like this was around when my two boys were younger so they could understand what was happening to me a bit better. All they heard was what I told them. I would have loved to have shown my boys something like this but even now, after reading the Medikidz comic book, I think they have both learnt a fair bit.”

The CEO of MS Australia, Debra Cerasa, says the Medikidz comic books are a much-needed resource for people living with MS and their families.

“MS currently affects thousands of Australians and each day five more people are diagnosed. It’s a confronting disease that affects millions of people around the world. This comic book is a wonderful and much-needed resource for thousands of Australian families. Being diagnosed with MS can be a scary time for everyone, particularly the children who often get scared and confused by the symptoms, which come and go. Symptoms such as difficulty walking, blurred vision, muscle weakness, fatigue and changes in memory can all be difficult to understand through the eyes of a child.”

One of the medical experts to review comic is Louise Hatter, an MS Specialist Nurse from the MS Society of Western Australia. Ms Hatter comments: “Medikidz comic books are an innovative way of simplifying different disease areas in a fun and easy to understand way for Children (and adults!) This comic book explaining MS will help children and others coming across MS for the first time to understand the basics of what can be a scary disease.”

MS is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS cannot be predicted. MS is a lifelong disease for which a cause and cure are yet to be found; however, doctors and scientists are making discoveries about the treatment and management of MS every day.

The comic books are available free of charge from MS Australia and are sponsored by Novartis, a healthcare company supporting members of the MS community.

WHAT
Medikidz is an initiative set up by a group of doctors to explain medical information to children. We explain medical conditions, investigations, diagnoses, and treatments to children in a way that they can understand. We have the very ambitious aim of becoming the global brand for kid’s health.
HOW
Using the Medikidz superhero characters, we have created a series of comic books to explain medical information to young patients. All of our content is written by doctors, and then co-authored by graphic novelists. We collaborate with key opinion leaders, leading patient associations and professional bodies – who come on board to officially endorse our materials. Since its inception, Medkidz have published over 100 book titles on a wide range of paediatric such as epilepsy, leukaemia and spinal cord injury as well as
WHYgraphic novels
Millions of children worldwide are diagnosed every day with conditions that even their parents may find difficult to comprehend. Many children don’t understand their medical conditions, or associated investigations, procedures and treatment, and are often scared by what is going on around them.
WHO
The Medikidz comic books are beneficial not only to children who are living with the medical condition, but also their peers, families and medical practioners who are involved in the process.
WHERE
Since its launch in 2009, Medikidz have distributed over 3,000,000 comic books globally, in 50 different countries and in 30 different languages, on a growing number of pediatric topics.
WHEN
The Medikidz comic books are easily accessible to children, their peers and families every day from leading health care practitioners and most hospitals. They can also be sourced online.

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