Clinically isolated syndromes (CIS)

What is CIS?

CIS is an episode of inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, for example:

  • a temporary problem with eyes (for example: pain, double or blurred vision) and because of this a person may be referred to a specialist eye doctor. 
  • a problem with muscle strength, balance or coordination (which may have affect walking), or a sensory problem such as pain, numbness or tingling in limbs.

The problem may have lasted for a few days or for several weeks.

Some people who have an episode of inflammation may eventually go on to develop multiple sclerosis (MS). Although they do not have a diagnosis of MS, we invite them to take part in SWIMS as we wish to identify all patients who have had episodes of inflammation, whether a single event or as part of a more progressive course.

Who can take part?

To be eligible to take part in SWIMS, you should:

  • be aged 18 years and over
  • resident in Devon or Cornwall 
  • clinical diagnosis of clinically isolated syndrome.

What can I do for the SWIMS project?


Provide information

Every year you will need to complete a SWIMS booklet. In these booklets, we ask participants about any new symptoms and contact they have had with health professionals. The booklets also include some 'rating scales' that measure different aspects of general health. 

If participants come to clinic their neurologist may also record and share with SWIMS the person’s score on the 'EDSS' – the neurologist’s view of how much CIS has affected the person.

From 2018, SWIMS is being managed as a sub-study of the UK MS Register and data may be stored with both the University of Plymouth and the Register.

How can I join?

To take part in SWIMS, people need to read the Patient information Sheet and then complete an Informed Consent Form and Baseline Record Form. These can be downloaded below or sent out by the SWIMS team (see Contacts) who will also provide FREEPOST envelopes.

Further information

The South West Impact of Multiple Sclerosis (SWIMS) project is a longitudinal study following around 1,600 people with MS or CIS in Devon and Cornwall, providing new information about how MS changes over time.


The project began in Plymouth in 2004, with funding from the Peninsula Medical School Foundation and between 2008 and 2017 the MS Society kindly funded the continuation of SWIMS. Our major priority has always been recruitment and retention, in order to build up a unique longitudinal dataset.