from "Ask the Professional" column
of MS Connection,
July/August 2005, by Dr. Derek Smith, MD
How did plans for developing a comprehensive MS center
Because many MS patients were already getting their
care at Neurology Associates in Norwich, Connecticut, many elements of
an MS center are already in place. In addition, we have a rehabilitation
facility that is located in the same building. We plan to include a social
worker as part of the team as well. We will have a dedicated infusion
area, where patients can interact with MS center providers as well as
other MS patients - an important component as we move toward more intravenous
treatments in MS. There is also an on-site MRI scanner and radiologist.
MRI is an important component of diagnosis, but is also integral to the
ongoing management of MS. At our MRI facility we will also be conducting
cutting-edge MRI measures, such as quantitative atrophy assessments,
which are most relevant to quantifying cognitive and physical disability
in MS. There are very few other MS Centers in the country doing these
measures as yet.
While the primary focus will always be on patient
care, it is our hope to build MS Care of Connecticut into a first-rate
facility, that in addition to serving the needs of our patients, can
also conduct and support clinical research in the search for a cause,
new treatments, and a cure for MS.
With approximately 6,000 state
residents living with MS, it is important to spearhead the development
of a comprehensive MS center in Connecticut. Most individuals with
MS won’t need all
of the services we will be organizing, but individuals with more complex
cases do. For other patients and doctors our goal will be to fill the
gaps in their care and act as a resource for certain services. Our goal
is to ensure that Connecticut residents have easy access to comprehensive
What is a comprehensive MS center and what is its purpose?
Because multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect so many
different parts of the central nervous system, it can potentially cause
problems with almost any part of our mind or body. Frequently, individuals
with MS are affected by more than one symptom of the disease. This can
make coping with MS difficult for many people; and requires extra care
from physicians to ensure that we are addressing all of the needs of
our patients. The diversity of MS symptoms can require many different
medical, psychological and social approaches in order to adequately address
each issue. Unfortunately, that task is often too much for any one medical
professional to provide. It was for this reason that the concept of a
comprehensive MS center was developed.
A comprehensive MS center has a
core group of providers who can enlist the support of additional specialists
as needed. This core group includes a neurologist, who establishes patient
diagnosis and guides the treatment plan. Some MS centers are managed
by a physiatrist or rehabilitation doctor. Other key team members include
a nurse or medical assistant, who can provide more day-to-day support
and contact for the patient; and a social worker or case manager, who
helps people with MS manage their home and work situations. Ideally,
an MS center would also encompass the resources of rehabilitative personnel,
including physical, occupational and speech therapists. Because cognitive
problems and depression are also common in MS, a psychiatrist and neuropsychologist
would be important professionals to include in an MS Center. Beyond this
core group, many other specialists should be available such as urologists,
ophthalmologists and pain specialists. Finally, many patients are interested
in alternative and holistic approaches to their MS. For an MS center
to be truly comprehensive, we need to have the ability to provide guidance
regarding these therapeutic modalities as well.
An important feature of a well-functioning MS center
is that members of the team meet on a regular basis to discuss patients.
This way, care can be carefully coordinated for each patient we serve.
learn more about MS Care of Connecticut, please call 860.886.1433 or
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.