Gullvi Flensner is an Associate Professor in Nursing Science and a Senior Lecturer at University West. Her research focuses on people with MS and the extreme tiredness, or fatigue, that many of them suffer.
MS, or multiple sclerosis, is an autoimmune disease, where the body's own immune system attacks cells in the central nervous system, causing small inflammations and damage. This affects the myelin, the protective insulating substance surrounding the nerves. As a result, nerve impulses to and from the brain are delayed or prevented. One of the main symptoms of MS is extreme tiredness, or fatigue.
Experience of fatigue
Gullvi Flensner has been researching fatigue in people with MS since the late 1990s. This research studies how they experience fatigue, how it affects their everyday life and how they handle it. The research also examines what can be done to counteract it.
Gullvi Flensner's studies show that 60-70 per cent of people with MS suffer from fatigue. This fatigue often severely restricts their day-to-day life. They may have a few hours each day when they can get things done before the tiredness sets in. They describe it as being like a battery suddenly running out and they no longer have the energy to carry on what they were doing. All their plans are based around their experience of fatigue.
Experiments with cooling vests
Many people with MS who suffer from fatigue find that it is aggravated by heat. They try many different ways of keeping themselves cool. In her studies, Gullvi Flensner got some people with MS to try wearing cooling vests. There are various kinds of cooling vest. They may work, for example, by having circulating water connected to them. Most of the people in the study found that the cooling vest helped. They had more energy, better capacity for thought, improved balance and more uninterrupted sleep, among other things.
Gullvi Flensner is a member of a research group at Linköping University that is studying various kinds of problems for people with MS. She defended her doctoral thesis "Fatigue in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis Lived experiences and perceived impact in daily life" at Linköping University in 2005.
Gullvi Flensner started off as a nurse. She was employed as a lecturer in health and nursing in 1978. Gullvi Flensner teaches on University West's specialist nursing programme.
A selection of Gullvi Flensner's publications can be found in the DiVA database.