Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month Resources for Physicians, Clinicians & Caregivers
March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, and the Locums Link Blog is marking the occasion with a handy collection of resources for physicians, clinicians, and other caregivers to share with patients.
Affecting more than 400,000 Americans, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a prominent neurological condition. It's also a difficult condition, with an unclear cause and no known cure. Hence, the purpose of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month is to raise awareness and support, helping patients face MS with knowledge, confidence, and the advantage of preparedness.
Multiple sclerosis is certainly common enough that healthcare professionals are well aware of initial symptoms and the process of care. Yet, for locum tenens physicians who may not be as familiar with their patients' day-to-day ailments and anxieties, a refresher course on common MS treatment resources, as well as a guide of what to tell patients, may be of use. So, for MS Month 2017, we offer just that. Read on for a helpful rundown of multiple sclerosis resources — useful not just for clinicians to share with patients, but also with friends, family, and the community in general.
Multiple Sclerosis Resources To Share With Patients
Patients experiencing MS symptoms may understandably be upset. Helping them walk through the stages of diagnosis and treatment from a position of knowledge and reassurance can go far towards reassuring this anxiety. With that in mind, we've gathered some MS resources for easy access.
MS Questions Patients Should Ask: Writing in a peer-reviewed article published by Healthline, June Halper, MSN, APN-C, FAAN, MSCN offers valuable advice to these patients. It's a great list of questions to have on hand when walking a patient through the process of MS discovery.
"Before your appointment with a neurologist, it’s a good idea to write down a few things," Halper writes. "Your neurologist will ask many questions to help them make an accurate diagnosis. Having the answers ready will help with the process."
Halper goes on to list some of these questions, which include:
- The ability to present a full list of symptoms and when they began to occur
- Keeping track of the frequency and severity of these symptoms, and what makes them better or worse
- An accounting of other medical conditions and medications currently (or previously) taken
- Whether anyone in the patient's family has also been diagnosed with MS
Patient Education Materials from the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation: From books and brochures to fact sheets and other resources, the entire MS Foundation website is an outstanding repository of MS awareness and educational tools. You can find it here.
MS Awareness Magazine from the MSAA: The Motivator is a twice-yearly magazine published by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) addressing "a variety of topics such as depression, assistive technology, the role of pets and service animals, parents with MS, and clinical trials, to name a few." You can access it here.
MS Awareness Videos from the National MS Society: These brief patient MS education videos can go a long way toward introducing basic MS concepts to patients and the general public. Find them here.
MS Event Calendar: The website of the MSAA offers an interactive calendar showing MS education and awareness events, state by state. You can find it here.
MS Resources for Veterans: The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers a comprehensive list of multiple sclerosis awareness and education resources not just for veterans, but for all patients, including posters, webinars, caregiver support groups, and other MS resources. Find it here.
My MSAA Community Online Forum: My MSAA Community is "a free online community ... for individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners to share information and their experiences with multiple sclerosis." Access it here.
Doctors, Clinicians & Caregivers In The MS Treatment Continuum
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition that affects different parts of the body, both physiologically and psychologically. It follows then, that a wide variety of physicians, clinicians, and caregivers often treat patients with MS, such as:
Primary care physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and/or nurse practitioners (NPs): Typically, a patient's primary care doctor or clinician will be the first to be confronted with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Neurologists: Neurologists are usually referred to as a point of confirmation for an MS diagnosis, and then often perform necessary treatment and symptom management.
Psychologists: MS can often lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety; mental health professionals can offer valuable consultation and treatment options.
Neuropsychologists: As MS can cause neuropsychological difficulties, including those with memory and information processing, it's not unusual for neuropsychologists to be consulted to help preserve these important mental functions.
Physiatrists, physical therapists, and recreational therapists: It's not uncommon for MS patients to be referred to these professionals in an effort to come up with personalized regimens to help strengthen bodily functions of mobility and coordination.
Occupational therapists: MS treatment can involve the intervention of occupational therapists, who can help optimize a patient's personal and workspace for easier use and navigation.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs): For MS patients experiencing difficulties with speech or cognition, an SLP can help overcome speech difficulties and create methods for effective communication.