Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system (meaning the brain and spinal cord) and is the most common cause of neurological debilitation in young people. The age of onset frequently falls between 28 and 35, but persons of any age, even children and the elderly, can be affected. It is found more commonly among women than with men.
Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Program
- State-of-the-art therapeutics, including the latest infusion therapies, for individuals with MS
- Coordinated and comprehensive care for MS patients and their families, including the management of all symptoms associated with MS
- A focus on wellness: We provide routine counseling on vitamin supplementation, diet, exercise, and stress-reduction for our patients with MS
- Cutting-edge research into better treatments of MS
- Advanced MS nursing
- Expertise in insurance issues that are unique to MS patients
From the National Multiple Sclerosis website:
Although there is still no cure for MS, effective strategies are available to modify the disease course, treat exacerbations (also called attacks, relapses, or flare-ups), manage symptoms, improve function and safety, and provide emotional support. In combination, these treatments enhance the quality of life for people living with MS.
Modifying the Disease Course
The following agents can reduce disease activity and disease progression for many individuals with relapsing forms of MS, including those with secondary progressive disease who continue to have relapses.
- FDA-Approved Disease-Modifying Agents
- Avonex (interferon beta-1a)
- Betaseron (interferon beta-1b)
- Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)
- Extavia (interferon beta-1b)
- Novantrone (mitoxantrone)
- Rebif (interferon beta-1a)
- Tysabri (natalizumab)
An exacerbation of MS is caused by inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) that causes damage to the myelin and slows or blocks the transmission of nerve impulses. To be a true exacerbation, the attack must last at least 24 hours and be separated from a previous exacerbation by at least 30 days. However, most exacerbations last from a few days to several weeks or even months. Exacerbations can be mild or severe enough to interfere with a person's ability to function at home and at work. Severe exacerbations are most commonly treated with high-dose corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation.
Symptoms of MS are highly variable from person to person and from time to time in the same individual. While symptoms can range from mild to severe, most can be successfully managed with strategies that include medication, self-care techniques, rehabilitation (with a physical or occupation therapist, speech/language pathologist, cognitive remediation specialist, among others), and the use of assistive devices.
Promoting Function through Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation programs focus on function-they are designed to help you improve or maintain your ability to perform effectively and safely at home and at work. Rehabilitation professionals focus on overall fitness and energy management, while addressing problems with accessibility and mobility, speech and swallowing, and memory and other cognitive functions.
Rehabilitation is an important component of comprehensive, quality health care for people with MS, at all stages of the disease. Rehabilitation programs include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Therapy for Speech and Swallowing Problems
- Cognitive Rehabilitation
- Vocational Rehabilitation
The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
CAM includes everything from exercise and diet to food supplements, stress management strategies, and lifestyle changes. These therapies come from various disciplines and traditions-yoga, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, traditional herbal healing, Chinese medicine, macrobiotics, naturopathy, and many others. They are referred to as complementary when they are used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments and alternative when they are used instead of conventional treatments.
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