Your MS Care Team
The process of diagnosis can be a long and stressful journey, often taking multiple rounds of tests and visiting multiple doctors. Ultimately, a confirmed diagnosis of MS is a life-altering event that affects each person in different ways.
Sometimes the complexity of treating multiple symptoms and concerns can overwhelm a single physician.
At the MS Center, we embrace the team approach for coordination of resources and therapies in a timely and cost-effective manner.
What is so special about the care team?
The goal of our comprehensive care model is to reduce disability, maintain independence and enhance safety. The members of your treatment team concentrate on all aspects of your needs, including attention to emotional and social needs and promoting a wellness approach to living with a chronic neurological condition.
Counseling, education and support are important functions of the team. We also believe that your care is enhanced when you take an active role in your care. This combination of individual initiative and group concern can strengthen hope, successfully address issues related to loss and life changes and aid adjustment to daily frustrations and new challenges.
What services are part of the care team?
The structure and orientation of your care team will change as the disease progresses. One thing is certain: our treatment is focused on helping you to live well with MS.
The MS Center team of physical therapists will address issues such as strength, endurance and flexibility, along with gait training and fall prevention.
The therapists are educated in the limitations common to MS, and can custom-tailor an exercise program that you can follow at home or with a local therapy group.
Occupational therapists can help you and your family more effectively manage everyday activities at home and at work.
They'll start by assessing your work or home environment to optimize fatigue management and safety. Then they'll show you ways to compensate for cognitive changes, such as difficulty with recall, verbal fluency and recall, and multi-tasking.
Many times, these tools make the difference in maintaining employment or school enrollment.
Speech and swallowing evaluation
Speech therapists can help address all aspects of communication, screening for language and cognitive changes for timely interventions, and evaluating swallowing problems which may occur as MS advances.
A swallowing specialist can evaluate and treat problems using a combination of modified diet, altered swallowing techniques and exercises.
The team's social workers focus on the psychosocial aspects of MS. Your counselor will work closely with the Greater Northwest Chapter of the National MS Society to coordinate the following services you might need:
- Assistance with obtaining and paying for prescription medications
- Home care services
- Financial assistance
- Emotional support
- Workplace accommodations to help maintain employment
- Job search strategies
- Job skills retraining referrals
- Assistance with social security and long term disability applications
- Family medical leave
Between 45% and 65% of all people with MS experience problems with memory, attention, word-finding, problem-solving or other cognitive functions as a symptom of the disease. These cognitive changes can vary considerably from one person to another, both in type and severity.
There is very little relationship between the severity of physical symptoms and the severity of cognitive problems. One person may have severe physical symptoms but no problems with cognition. Another person may be very physically fit but have severe problems with thinking and remembering.
Your neuropsychologist will use tests to evaluate your cognitive (thinking) skills, identifying and measuring your cognitive strengths and weaknesses. They will then recommend a treatment plan to enhance your cognitive strengths.
If you are enrolled in school, your neuropsychologist will work with school counselors to accommodate any specific needs, such as a note-taking service or flexibility in timed tests or class schedules.
If you are employed, your neuropsychologist can suggest appropriate accommodations to your workplace and work schedule, as well as assist you in appropriate consideration of disability application.
The nutritionists can help with unwanted weight loss or weight gain, constipation, vitamin deficiency and supplementation, protein-related medication interactions and dehydration.
They can also recommend dietary changes to reduce any swallowing problems.
The Greater Northwest Chapter of the National MS Society is a key partner in helping you and your family identify wellness programs available in your community, including peer support, exercise, and formal stress management classes.
Creative therapists in art, music, and recreation as well as spiritual counselors are important resources in a comprehensive wellness program.
Living with advanced MS
In the late stages of MS, the focus of your care will shift to finding ways to optimize function and quality of life.
While not all MS patients face loss of independence, some do. The MS Center's team approach can provide timely interventions to address changes in cognitive and physical function.
The team social worker and neuropsychologist can help you and your family gather information about home living arrangements such as assisted care, respite, adult day care and nursing home care.