EL PASO, Texas -

The incidence of multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the central nervous system, is three times higher in El Paso than the national average.
   
The disease can be genetic or caused by the environment and there is no cure.  

Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso hope to help those living with multiple sclerosis.  Tucked away in the corner of the Durham Center at UTEP is the Stanley E. Fulton Biomechanics and Motor Behavior Laboratory.

That is where Dr. Feng Yang, staff and volunteers are finding ways to improve the quality of life of people suffering because of multiple sclerosis, by helping them reduce falls.

"M-S can affect a person in many perspectives. It reduces mobility, reduces their balance, their cognitive skills," Yang said.

Jean Acosta suffered two strokes and a heart attack eight years ago when she was 49 years old. She is participating in a new study at UTEP, but she's also getting treatment to improve her quality of life with the help of a machine that stimulates the body by forcing fast movements. The machine maps a person's movements and helps patients and doctors establish benchmarks.

"We have seen muscle strength, in the body balance, mobility and flexibility, even a sensation level. All those things are connected to falls," Yang said.

Tang also tests healthy people for his study. UTEP students are recruited to plot how their body reacts to falls. They participate in physical and cognitive tests.

Yang hopes his findings will help alleviate some of the financial, physical and emotional stress caused by the debilitating disease.

"We are thinking if we can do something to alleviate those symptoms, or just delay the progression of the disease, then we are making a huge difference to them, to their family members, even to our community here," Yang said.