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I'm A Celebrity: Kadeena Cox's multiple sclerosis diagnosis explained

The Paralympic champion was diagnosed at aged 23

im a celeb kadeena cox
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
22 November 2021
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After defending her cycling time trial title and achieving two gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics this summer, Kadeena Cox has entered the I’m A Celebrity castle in the hopes of winning a different kind of title. 

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A champion in both athletics and cycling, Kadeena is an inspiration for many young athletes. But what exactly is her disability? Read on to find out what she’s said about it. 

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What is Kadeena Cox’s MS story?

Before competing as a parasport athlete, Kadeena was an able-bodied sprinter and began her sporting career at the age of 15. At the age of 23, however, she suffered a stroke. After spending some months recovering, Kadeena returned to normal health before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) later that year. 

Speaking about her diagnosis on the Prevayl: Better Begins Here podcast, she said: "In 2014, I was training for the 400m, and then I had a stroke in May. I spent like three, four months recovering from that. I was 23 years old, I’d had a stroke, which, you know, I thought, okay, this is bad, but I can recover from this.

"So when I was diagnosed with MS, I realised this is going to impact me for the rest of my life. My condition can change. Like at any point, I could become severely disabled or, it could just constantly get worse."

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Kadeena used sport to help her get on top of her disability. Speaking to the MS Trust, she said: "I managed to use sport to give me a goal and give me something I could control, and it was kind of what allowed me to get over it in a relatively short period of time."

kadeena cox tokyo© Photo: Getty Images

Kadeena was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 23

What is Multiple sclerosis?

"MS is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance", says the NHS.

"It's a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild. In many cases, it's possible to treat symptoms."

Like in Kadeena’s case, MS is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age and is two to three times more common in women than in men. 

What are Kadeena Cox’s MS symptoms?

Talking to the MS Trust, Kadeena explained the symptoms she experiences. She said: "I get a lot of muscle spasms, so mainly through my right arm and in my right leg, and then when I'm quite fatigued I get them in both legs and arms and that's when I spend time in my wheelchair."

The Paralympic athlete also said she experiences "pins and needles and burning" sensations as well as "problems in terms of memory and thinking".

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How are the I’m A Celeb trials adapted for Kadeena?

kadeena cox paralympics© Photo: Getty Images

Kadeena won two gold medals at the Paralympics this year

Before entering the castle, Kadeena made it clear that she didn’t want to miss out on any of the trials due to her disability. She told the Radio Times: "That actually was one of my biggest fears and one of the reasons I probably didn’t want to do the show, because I didn’t want to be that person that would be exempt from loads of trials.

"I have spoken with the team and we talked about ways in which we can adapt things and ways in which we can make sure I can do the trials without having to miss opportunities.

"So there’s things in place so that I can do the trials, which is great. And it’s great that the team have worked so closely with me to make sure that I won’t have to feel like my disability is holding me back."

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