Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and can cause vision loss, difficulty walking and debilitating fatigue, among other things. Multiple sclerosis typically starts between the ages of 28 and 35, but people of any age can be affected. There has been a revolution in our ability to treat MS in the past 25 years, and due to advances in science, we now have the ability to prevent physical disability in patients living with MS.
While the cause of MS is still unknown, one thing is for sure — it requires proactive care to manage its symptoms and keep flare-ups at bay.
More than 2 million people worldwide live with MS
At Ochsner, we understand that the symptoms of MS can vary greatly from patient to patient, which is why our treatment plans consists of coordinated and comprehensive care tailored to fit each patient’s needs. The Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Center focuses on patient wellness and includes routine counseling on vitamin supplementation, diet, exercise and stress reduction. Ochsner works hard to translate leading-edge research into more sophisticated treatments for patients with MS. Patients travel to the Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Center from all over the Gulf South for advanced immunotherapies and treatment of symptoms. We also offer on-site mental health services and yoga classes designed specifically for MS patients.
Why Ochsner for Multiple Sclerosis Care?
Ochsner’s Multiple Sclerosis Center offers the most advanced treatment and management of the disease, including:
Ochsner offers the latest infusion therapies for MS patients.
Coordinated and comprehensive care for patients and families We address each and every symptom, leaving no stone unturned.
A Focus on Wellness
Ochsner provides routine counseling on the unique needs of MS patients when it comes to vitamins, diet, exercise and stress management.
We’re always striving to find better treatments through clinical trials and research.
We’ll work with you to tackle issues that are unique to MS patients.
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neuromyelitis optica
- Optic neuritis
- Neuroimmunological disorders
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 MS patients improve or maintain their ability to perform effectively and safely at home and 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
Yoga & Meditation Classes
The Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Center offers Yoga & Meditation classes to anyone living with Multiple Sclerosis. The MS Yoga and Meditation class is open to ALL levels of mobility.
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.
Myths and Facts
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that damages the brain, spinal cord and nerves of the eyes. It affects over 2 million people worldwide. Although you may have heard of MS before, not everything you’ve read or been told about the disease may be correct. Advances in research are giving us a better understanding of the disease and how people with MS manage their health.
Here are the facts on some common misconceptions about MS.
MYTH: Everyone with MS ends up in a wheelchair sooner or later.
FACT: The majority of people do NOT become severely physically disabled and two-thirds of all patients remain able to walk.
MYTH: Women with MS cannot and should not get pregnant.
FACT: There is no evidence to suggest that MS effects fertility or pregnancy-related complications. Women are encouraged to work with their neurologist before, during and after pregnancy to address concerns related to medications, breast feeding and MS relapse prevention.
MYTH: People with MS can’t work.
FACT: People with MS can and do work. There are also many federal, state, and employer sponsored protections and benefits to support you in the workplace.
MYTH: Because MS develops slowly, I can wait to start medication.
FACT: We now know that early treatment improves long-term health and well-being by slowing down the build-up of irreversible damage and reducing the number of relapses people experience.
MYTH: People with MS can’t exercise or go to the gym.
FACT: Exercise is important in the management of MS symptoms. Exercise programs should be tailored to suit your abilities.
MYTH: Multiple sclerosis is fatal.
FACT: Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. It’s important to take your medicines as prescribed and discuss any concerns with your provider.
Our social worker provides counseling services and can identify programs, benefits, financial assistance, vocational rehabilitation, reduced prescription drug costs, transportation services, and modifications to your home or vehicle. You are not alone facing the challenges of MS.
Here are some resources to help navigate the challenges of MS unique to your situation.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society (regional office: 4613 Fairfield Street, Metairie, LA 70006)
504-832-4013 ● www.nationalmssociety.org ● email@example.com
National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
954-776-6805 ● www.msfocus.org ● firstname.lastname@example.org
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
1-800-532-7667 ● www.mymsaa.org ● email@example.com
MS Support Groups
Support groups are available in many areas and can be a great place to learn more about MS while making new friends. For information, contact Anna Moss at the local NMSS office.
MS Yoga and Meditation Class
Get your free class card from Ochsner MS Center during one of your visits or from the regional office of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Classes are held at two locations:
- Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00 pm at Ochsner Fitness Center – Heritage Plaza
- Fridays from 11:30-1:00 pm at Ochsner Fitness Center – Elmwood
MS Aqua Therapy Class
Call 504-849-6868 to sign up (cost is $10 per class). Be sure to bring a towel. The class is held:
- Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:15 pm at East Jefferson Wellness Center
MS North Shore Exercise Class
Call 985-292-1234 to sign up (cost is $10 per class). The class is held:
- Tuesdays at 12:00 pm at Christwood Retirement Community in Covington
Visit our MS Education and Resource Room in the MS Clinic at Ochsner Medical Center. It is located to the left of the reception desk.
We understand that the symptoms of MS can vary greatly from patient to patient. That’s why our focus is on patient wellness and includes routine counseling on vitamin supplementation, diet, exercise, and stress reduction. It is important to take an active role in your care and treatment.
As an Ochsner patient, you can expect:
- Care that’s individualized to your needs and respectful of your cultural and spiritual values and beliefs.
- High-quality services and treatment regardless of your race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, or sexual preference.
- An appointment reminder phone call 1-2 days prior to your scheduled appointment.
- A same-day response to prescription refill requests.
We kindly ask that you:
1. Notify us of refills for medications 1 week in advance.
It takes several business days to refill your prescription. We must review your medical records, check for expiration dates, verify number of refills and ensure refill eligibility. Please plan ahead.
2. Call if you are unable to keep an appointment.
You will be considered a no-show if you do not present for a scheduled visit and do not contact us by the end of the day. Patients who no-show three times within a 12-month period are subject to a clinic discharge.
3. Arrive on time or early for your appointments.
If you arrive more than 15 minutes late to your scheduled appointment we will do everything possible to accommodate you the same day. Being late may require we reschedule you for a more convenient day and time.
Financial Assistance for Patients
Health care can be costly. Health insurance usually covers most of your medical costs. If you don’t have insurance or need help with costs that aren’t covered, financial assistance might be available. Discuss any concerns about paying your medical bills with your health care provider, social worker, or our clinic office.
Financial Assistance for Medications
Pharmaceutical and drug companies offer financial assistance to offset the costs of disease modifying therapies (DMT) and other medications for people with and without insurance. Additionally, there are programs to assist people on federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. We can work with you, the drug company, and your pharmacy to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, whenever possible. It is important to respond to all phone calls from our team, your pharmacy and the drug company in a timely manner, so that you can take advantage of these valuable resources.
To learn more about medication assistance programs, visit these web sites:
Financial Assistance from Ochsner
Patients from Louisiana and Mississippi, who meet income criteria, can qualify for financial assistance from Ochsner Health. It’s important to contact Ochsner Financial Assistance once you’ve scheduled an appointment and have a concern about the co-pay, or immediately after you receive a bill that you cannot afford. Even if you don’t qualify for financial assistance, Ochsner may be able to assist you with a payment plan.
For more information or to see if you qualify for assistance, call 504-842-4190.
Click here to review the criteria online and download an application.