After her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Annette Funicello eventually lost her ability to walk and to talk. Throughout the course of her disease, she used a cane to help her walk and eventually needed to use a wheelchair for mobility. Her death was later attributed to complications from multiple sclerosis.
Annette Funicello had an aggressively progressive form of multiple sclerosis. She began experiencing symptoms in 1987 and decided to go public in 1992 because the media was speculating that she was having difficulties with an alcohol addiction.
As the disease progressed, Funicello came to need care around the clock and had to be carried to her wheelchair from her bed. As she lost the ability to eat, she came to rely on receiving nutrition through a tube. She had difficulty swallowing, which could cause choking on saliva, and therefore needed her saliva suctioned throughout the night.
During the course of her illness, she tried an experimental treatment called CCSVI. There are mixed reviews about its success, with her husband stating that he noticed improvement via her showing an increased response through blinking. Her doctor stated that he did not see initial improvements, but with time, there appeared to be small changes in her facial responses.