Our Treatment Team
The Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute offers a comprehensive program for the care of those affected by MS and related diseases. Our staff specialize in different aspects of care. We work as a team to give the best possible support to our patients and their families. Often, appointments are made with more than one team member during the same visit to the Center. Our team includes:
Multiple Sclerosis Center neurologists diagnose and treat MS and related diseases. They order diagnostic tests and use medications to treat the disease and lessen symptoms.
Neurology consultation is particularly useful for those with MS or a related disorder, who are uncertain they have MS – have MS and want to learn about treatment – need ongoing monitoring – or need to know about research and the future of treatment options.
Rehabilitation Medicine physicians are also known as physiatrists, or physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) specialists.
These physicians treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and related diseases, and help achieve optimal function and independence.
The rehabilitation medicine specialist works closely with a team of professionals to address symptoms such as weakness, spasticity, sensory alteration, autonomic function, cognitive changes, mobility issues and others. They have expertise in overseeing exercise programs and wellness.
Rehabilitation medicine consultation is particularly useful for those with multiple sclerosis or a related disorder who need better treatment of symptoms – need to learn about exercise and other wellness activities – need assistance in selecting durable medical equipment or those who seek spasticity management options such as botulisum toxin or phenol blocks.
Neuro-ophthalmologists are physicians who specialize in diseases of the nervous system that affect the eyes. The physicians from Neuro-ophthalmic Consultants Northwest conduct multiple sclerosis eye clinics at the First Hill Campus.
Neuro-ophthalmology consultation is particularly useful for those with MS or a related disorder who need to know if vision changes are due to one of these diseases -- need to monitor the state of their vision – or need help with visual symptoms.
Nurse practitioners have additional training that qualifies them to diagnose and treat medical conditions with the supervision of a physician. They are able to order tests and prescribe most medications. They often assist by following patients after testing or changes in medications, or when a patient notes a change in their condition.
Our registered nurses at the Swedish MS Center have additional specialized training in multiple sclerosis and related diseases. They are able to assist physicians in educating patients, discussing medical issues with patients and by following test results. They are an essential link between the patient and the physician. Much of the telephone contact with the clinic is through one of our nurse specialists.
Rehabilitation psychologists have specialized training in working with patients who have acquired physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities. Individuals who live with disabilities may face personal, social, and situational barriers to optimal functioning in society.
The rehabilitation psychologist focuses on assisting patients and their families, cope with the consequences of disability as it impacts physical functioning, cognitive functioning, interpersonal relationships, work life, recreational activities, and community integration.
Rehabilitation psychology consultation is particularly useful for those with multiple sclerosis or a related disorder who need assistance coping with the diagnosis, symptoms, or disability -- need treatment for depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues -- need assistance in understanding cognitive problems and implementing management strategies for them.
Rehabilitation psychologist counsels/educates multiple sclerosis patients on stress management techniques -- couples or family counseling to assist with adjusting to the inevitable changes that accompany diagnosis and disability – and making positive health behavior changes to promote and maintain optimal health.
Physical therapists use a combination of exercise and physical-based modalities to help improve activities such as walking, transfers, choosing proper equipment and setting up conditioning programs. Physical treatments include ultrasound, heat, stretching, transcutaneous nerve stimulation and other methods. Some physical therapy services include:
- Strengthening programs – to establish exercise programs to increase strength
- Stretching and Range of Motion programs – to increase flexibility
- Mobility evaluations – to determine the best approach to maintaining mobility including bracing, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs or scooters
- Wheelchair seating clinic with a specialized PT and medical equipment representative to help determine the best seating and accessibility options to maximize function and skin integrity.
- Medical equipment evaluations – to determine what equipment is needed in the home to optimize mobility and safety. Equipment evaluations often address specific tasks, to determine what equipment is needed to complete specific tasks such as writing, eating, dressing, etc.
- Energy conservation – teaching methods of conserving energy in patients with weakness or fatigue.
Occupational therapists specialize in arm and hand dysfunction. They use a combination of exercise and physical-based treatments to improve hand and arm function, reduce upper extremity spasticity and contractures, maintain independence, improve time management, and the safety and efficiency of performing daily tasks. Some occupational services include:
- Strengthening programs, to establish exercise programs to increase arm/hand strength
- Posture assessment of the neck, upper extremities, and shoulder
- Stretching and Range of Motion programs, to increase flexibility
- Medical equipment evaluations, to determine what equipment is needed in the home to optimize safety. Many of these evaluations are done in the home. Equipment evaluations often address specific tasks, to determine what equipment is needed to complete specific tasks such as writing, eating, dressing, etc.
- Custom upper extremity orthosis and splints to decrease spasticity and improve range of motion
Speech language pathologists evaluate and treat speech, swallowing and cognition (memory) issues. They use exercises and physical-based treatments to improve function in these areas. Some speech therapy services include:
- Treatment to improve speech intelligibility and loudness
- Managing equipment used to assist with communication (computers, amplifiers, alphabet board, etc)
- Evaluation and treatment of the swallow disorders to improve safety and comfort with eating (diet modification, aspiration precautions)
- Evaluation of cognitive –communication skills (memory, language, attention, organization) as well as teaching compensatory strategies to improve function
- Works with ENT/ PM&R in the MS Center in referral of Laryngeal EMG (would help determine if nerve damage is present or if botulium toxin injections would improve speech quality)
Dietitians evaluate and counsel patients regarding their dietary concerns. Nutritional consultation services include:
- Managing weight gain or weight loss
- Nutrition Issues for multiple sclerosis
- Living with food allergies/ sensitivities
- Vitamin and supplement regimen evaluation
- Helps provide support in confounding diseases that affect nutritional status such as diabetes, etc.
Social workers provide personal support to patients and their families to address social needs. This may include such things as navigating government systems, finding financial assistance or learning about programs that will enhance their quality of life. Services include:
Multiple Sclerosis Center social workers can help patients obtain medical coverage such as Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. They can often secure financial assistance for multiple sclerosis disease-modifying medications and other prescribed medications.
Social workers can help patient’s access financial assistance for such things as medical bills, rent, utilities, food, mental health counseling, and other needs. They provide education and counsel about obtaining social security disability.
Social workers can help in finding housing options such as subsidized housing, accessible housing, and community living settings for those who need personal care.
They can also assist in finding in-home care services.
They are resources for referrals to activities, programs and services offered by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. And they can provide short term counseling to help individuals and families adjust to the presence of multiple sclerosis.
Our vocational counselor assists our patients with their complex employment and disability related needs including comprehensive vocational assessments to help people identify their employment and educational goals; counseling for educational, vocational and disability concerns.
The Multiple Sclerosis Center Vocational counselor can help with job retention services with a focus on reasonable accommodations and advocacy of employment rights and job search guidance for those who are seeking work.
Our counselor helps with educational planning and coordination of classroom accommodations for high school and college students and provides referral and coordination of services with State agencies such as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Department of Services for the Blind.
Our counselor also provides assistance with avocational activities (e.g. volunteer work); guidance on applications for disability income (e.g. Social Security Disability Income, Long Term Disability, Short Term Disability) and assistance with accommodative technology.
Through our Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Center, we help people affected by multiple sclerosis achieve their highest level of wellbeing. This program includes physical fitness, nutrition, emotional and social wellbeing.
Please see the MS Wellness Center for more information about the services and programs offered through our Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Center.
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