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Importance of Comprehensive Care in Multiple Sclerosis

Posted on March 25, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Amit M. Shelat, D.O.
Article written by
Amanda Agazio, Ph.D.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness that can affect a person’s quality of life. For example, problems that may develop in addition to the characteristic cognitive and motor issues include emotional changes, social and familial issues, financial problems, and changes in the ability to work. A comprehensive approach to MS treatment is important for managing all of the symptoms related to the disease, as well as its impact on other areas of your life.

What Is Comprehensive Care?

Comprehensive care is an interdisciplinary treatment approach that meets multiple needs, including physical, emotional, and social requirements. For example, instead of just meeting with a neurologist to manage the root cause of their disease, a person with MS might also meet with a psychiatrist to manage any emotional challenges they are experiencing.

Comprehensive care centers for MS have been created to help avoid care fragmentation and encourage collaboration among diverse health care team members. In a comprehensive care center, all health care providers can easily communicate with each other. They can track your disease progression and work together to find different ways to treat your symptoms of MS. Comprehensive care centers can help avoid the unnecessary repetition of tests and can help make different types of care more accessible.

Overall, collaborative, comprehensive care can help you manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. You can speak with your health care providers to find a referral for a comprehensive MS center or to develop a health care team to manage your MS.

Components of a Comprehensive Health Care Team

The goal of comprehensive health care is to treat the whole person and elevate their well-being to the highest level possible. The following information includes some of the key players in a comprehensive health care team designed for someone living with MS.

Neurologist

Neurologists are physicians that specialize in the nervous system and who have been trained to diagnose and treat MS. A neurologist will work with a person who has MS to find disease-modifying treatments that help to treat MS and slow the disease progression. Some neurologists are specialists in MS and treat people with MS exclusively.

Psychologist or Psychiatrist

The symptoms of MS can affect an individual’s quality of life and may lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists can help diagnose and treat mental health conditions. They can also help mediate family and marital issues that may develop as a result of the difficulties of living with MS.

Neuropsychologist

MS can affect the function of the neurons in the brain, and more than half of the people living with MS have cognitive deficits. Neuropsychologists specialize in diagnosing and treating these cognitive deficits.

Physical Therapist

During MS, the autoimmune destruction of the protective myelin sheath covering nerve cells in the spinal cord can occur. This can affect a person’s motor skills and ability to walk. Physical therapists can prescribe movements and exercises to improve motor function, balance, and strength.

Speech and Language Pathologist

Some people living with MS can have difficulties with speaking and swallowing. Speech and language pathologists are health care professionals trained to help treat problems with speech, swallowing, and cognition. They can provide assistive technologies and exercises for people with MS to help treat symptoms associated with speaking and swallowing.

Occupational Therapist

The symptoms of MS can make it difficult to complete the daily tasks of living. Occupational therapists help people with MS adapt to living with their condition and teach them new ways to complete daily tasks using exercises and assistive devices, including finding new ways to complete a task so they can stay at or return to work.

Social Worker

Social workers can help coordinate care for people with MS by identifying community programs, entitlements, and resources. Social workers can also perform a psychosocial evaluation of someone living with MS to determine their emotional and social needs. Social workers are also important for advocacy purposes and making sure a person living with MS has the highest quality of care.

Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists help people living with MS identify and carry out enjoyable activities like arts, crafts, and music that they can perform despite their physical and cognitive limitations.

You

You can support your well-being by making choices that support a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, having healthy sleep habits, and practicing mindfulness.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyMSTeam is the social network for people with MS and their loved ones. On MyMSTeam, more than 165,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with MS.

Are you living with MS? Who’s on your care team? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyMSTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Amit M. Shelat, D.O. is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the American College of Physicians. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Amanda Agazio, Ph.D. completed her doctorate in immunology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her studies focused on the antibody response and autoimmunity. Learn more about her here.

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