Fatigue, weakness and tingling are often just the beginning. Impaired sensation, lack of coordination and vision problems can also be symptoms. So too might cognitive impairment and mood changes.
Everyone’s symptoms are different. Some people might lose the ability to walk, but have no cognitive impairment. Others might have trouble with memory and attention, but have no problem with eyesight. Still others might suffer from blurred vision and even temporary blindness.
Most MS centres are not equipped to help the whole patient. Specialized care – whether that means counselling, physiotherapy or help navigating the health care system – often happens off site. And patients can endure long waits for referrals.
The way we run our clinical care is different.
In the BARLO MS Centre, we won’t just prescribe medication for MS; we will treat the way it impacts every facet of a patient’s life.
So patients won’t just get a doctor. They’ll get a doctor and a nurse, a social worker, a neuropsychologist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist and other professionals – all in one place.
Patients will work with specialists in a whole range of areas. We will have an independent living lab where patients can learn how to modify their homes. We are building a gym for customized exercise, physiotherapy and high-tech gait analysis. We are establishing a nutrition clinic because what people eat matters.
Alex Roll is a St. Michael’s nurse practitioner and her work with patients is just one example of how we operate. She made the world of difference to Clara*.
Clara is a 22-year-old university student recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in which symptoms progress quickly. When first-line drugs failed, Alex quickly modified the treatment.
Then Alex sent Clara to an occupational therapist to help her with balance so she could continue to walk to class. And finally Alex and her team came up with a treatment plan so Clara could write her exams. Together, they got Clara through her year.
“Nobody wants to make a hospital their second home. But it’s a bit like that,” says Alex. “Everyone here knows Clara. We know her family. We’re here for her.”
MS isn’t just a disease that affects people’s bodies. It tears apart marriages. It puts people out of jobs. It disrupts parenting. The stress can be as debilitating as the disease itself and even worsen it.
We believe nobody should have to deal with that alone.
*Out of concern for privacy, the patient’s name has been changed