Neurologists

A neurologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system, including MS. An MS neurologist is a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of MS. How are neurologists involved in your MS care?

Diagnosis: A neurologist is the physician who usually diagnoses MS. If your family physician suspects you may have MS, you will likely be referred to a neurologist for diagnosis. The diagnosis usually involves a medical history, nerve function tests, laboratory tests, and an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look for MS-related damage in the brain.

Treatment: The neurologist oversees your MS treatment and is responsible for prescribing medications to treat MS, including disease-modifying drugs and drugs to help with symptoms. Your family physician should also be closely involved with your care. The neurologist can also refer you to other health professionals for other aspects of your treatment (see below).

Referrals: Neurologists can also provide referrals to other healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, or MS nurses, urologists (doctors that specialize in bladder and urinary system problems), gynecologists (doctors that specialize in women's reproductive health), gastroenterologists (doctors specializing in stomach and intestine conditions), psychiatrists (doctors that specialize in mental health), sex therapists, or pain specialists. Each person with MS is different, and the treatments that you need will determine which referrals your neurologist makes.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Your-Healthcare-Team

MS nurses

An MS nurse is a nurse with advanced training and experience in caring for patients with MS. MS nurses can also be certified as experts by going through an international certification system. Nurses who become certified are then known as MS Certified Nurses (MSCNs).

MS nurses work on a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and assisted-living homes. Some nurses will also provide care in the patient's own home. What can an MS nurse do for you? MS nurses can help you in a variety of ways:

Education: An MS nurse can teach you more about the condition, what to expect, how to manage symptoms, and how to use your medications. They can also educate your family and friends so that they will be better able to assist you. MS nurses are often involved in education programs in the community. As well, they provide expert advice on MS to other health professionals.

Symptom management: When it comes to managing difficult symptoms, and MS nurse can be a lifesaver. They can provide practical, easy-to-follow tips on how to manage bladder and bowel problems, spasticity, pain, mobility issues, and fatigue. They can also teach you special skills such as bladder training, self-catheterization, how to give yourself medication injections, and overcoming injection anxiety.

Support and outreach: In addition to their clinical knowledge, MS nurses are a valuable source of support. They can provide you and your family with emotional support and direct you to other professionals (such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, homecare workers, sex therapists, or social workers) and services (such as support groups, transit services, respite care, or medical equipment providers) in the community that can help.

Research and advocacy: MS nurses are often involved in clinical research studies to improve the quality of MS care. They may also be involved in advocacy programs that promote better understanding and management of MS.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Your-Healthcare-Team

Physical and occupational therapists

Physical therapists:
A physical therapist (or physiotherapist [PT]) is a professional whose role is to help people improve or maintain their ability to move and participate in physical activities. MS can cause a variety of symptoms that may affect these abilities, including spasticity, coordination problems, muscle weakness, balance problems, and numbness.

Because the physical effects of MS vary between people, your physical therapist will do an individual assessment for you. Then, he or she will design a personalized program to help you improve or maintain your physical function. This program can involve exercises, stretching, and possibly the use of assistive devices.

Physical therapy can help people with MS improve their balance, flexibility, stamina, and mobility. Talk to your physician about whether physical therapy might be helpful for you.

Occupational therapists:
Occupational therapists (OTs) are professionals who help people find better or easier ways to perform their activities of daily living at home and work. Activities of daily living are activities that a person needs to do in order to care for themselves, including using the toilet, bathing or showering, eating, dressing, and getting in and out of bed. OTs can also help make other activities easier, such as driving, cooking, or housekeeping.

What sorts of things might an OT recommend?

Assistive devices: OTs are experts on assistive devices such as lifts, hoists, grab bars, pen and pencil grips, and button hooks.

Home/office modifications: OTs can recommend ways to modify your household or workplace to make it easier for you to do your activities. Modifications may include roll-in showers (for people in wheelchairs), ramps, lifts, railings, or wider doorways.

Activities and exercises: OTs can also recommend exercises to improve coordination, strength, and flexibility. This can make it easier to do your activities of daily living.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Your-Healthcare-Team

Home care workers, social workers, and sex therapists

Home care workers
Some people with MS need extra help caring for themselves at home. A family member or spouse may take on this role, but there may come a time when the caregiving needs of the person with MS exceed the time, financial, or emotional resources available to the family. This is where a home care worker may be able to help. Home care workers can help the person with MS live independently at home.

Home care workers may provide a variety of different services including:

  • personal care (washing, grooming, dressing)
  • medical care (exercises, bowel and bladder management, administration of medications)
  • homemaking (shopping, cooking, cleaning, running errands)
  • companionship (talking with and entertaining the person with MS)
  • psychological support (counseling)

The first step is to talk your healthcare professional about the services that you may need and to find a home care worker who is qualified to provide these services. Your local MS society, MS nurse, or social worker may be able to refer you to suitable home care worker in your area.

Social workers
The social worker connects people who have MS to the social services that they may need, including housing, insurance, long-term care facilities, powers of attorney for personal care, and financial planning.

Sex therapists
A number of people with MS may experience sexual problems. For some people, the physical effects of MS may make sexual activity more difficult or less enjoyable. Others may feel less desirable or guilty about their condition. Partners may struggle with the dual role of caregiver and sexual partner.

Open communication between partners may help to resolve these problems. But in some cases, it's a good idea to get help from a professional. Sex therapists are trained to provide counseling on sex and relationship issues, and some specialize in MS. They can help couples work through and resolve problems related to sex and intimacy. It's a good idea to find a therapist who is familiar with the physical and emotional effects of MS on sexuality. Your local MS society, MS nurse, or physician may be able to help you find a therapist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-Your-Healthcare-Team