Disease Management

In-Home Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

The human brain is an amazing creation. We’re just now beginning to grasp an understanding of how this marvel of nature works. While there’s lots to learn, treatment regimens are becoming available for destructive nerve diseases including Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord and optic nerves.  It can cause problems with muscle control and strength, vision, balance, feeling and thinking.

The Allegiance Difference

Our home health team of skilled team of professionals will coordinate and develop with your physicians and you a personalized plan of care that will minimize nerve damage and slow the progression of Multiple Sclerosis and manage the symptoms so you can maintain your independence and improve your quality of life. Most often, this is them with a multidisciplinary approach which can include Skilled Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Home Health Aides.

Skilled Nursing will instruct on medications, route, administration, side effects to watch for and when to notify physician of adverse effects. Nurses teach pain management strategies to improve your quality of life.  They will also instruct you on symptoms and complications of the disease and how to prevent and/or manage them.  As the disease progresses, skilled nursing can teach you how perform self-catheterization (tube inserted into bladder to empty the bladder) and provide strategies on how to avoid urinary tract infection. Skilled Nursing will also instruct you on sources of dietary fiber and strategies to avoid constipation. 

Physical Therapy plays an important role in keeping you as independent as long as possible.  Physical Therapists will develop a customized rehabilitation plan tailored to your needs. Therapy can improve your balance, strength, flexibility and posture.  Improved fitness, strength and endurance have been shown to decrease fatigue in people living with Multiple Sclerosis.  The Physical Therapist will also perform a home safety evaluation and make recommendations to make your home safer and prevent falls.  Some of the recommendations for the home may include items such as shower chairs, grab bars in shower, ramps and assistive devices for walking to increase your level of safety in your home. They will also teach you how to use these assistive devices.

Occupational Therapy will assist you in maintaining your independence in daily activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming and meal preparation. They will assess your current ability to perform those tasks and will teach you alternative ways that will allow you to perform your daily activities with greater ease and satisfaction.  The Occupational therapist will instruct you on managing fatigue and self-pacing of activities to increase your optimal level of function.  They will also provide you with strategies to improve your memory.

Speech Therapy will assist in treating your dysphagia  (difficulty in swallowing) in coordination with your physician.  Your physician may order a swallow study to determine the level of swallowing difficulty you are experiencing.  The Speech therapist will provide instruction on strategies for safer eating and swallowing, dietary changes, exercises or stimulation designed to improve swallowing.   Since many people who have difficulty swallowing also have speech disorders, the Speech therapist will also evaluate, diagnose and treat those problems. 

About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis is diagnosed in two to three times more women than men.  Most people are between 20 -50 years of age when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, although it can occur in young children and in the senior adult population.  Multiple Sclerosis is more common in Caucasians of Northern European descent but people from all backgrounds can be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

The central nervous system is made up of nerve cells that send signals to each other. Each nerve cell is covered with a protective coating called myelin.  Without myelin, the brain and spinal cord can’t communicate with the nerves in the rest of the body.  Myelin acts as a conductor in helping sending signals at high speeds from one end of the nerve to the other.  Multiple Sclerosis gradually destroys myelin in patches throughout brain and spinal cord, causing muscle weakness and other symptoms.  These patches of damage are called lesions.  The symptoms that present themselves are dependent on which parts of the brain and spinal cord are damaged and the severity of the damage.  

Early symptoms may include:

  • Muscle Problems.  May feel weak and stiff and limbs may feel heavy. May drag your leg when you are walking.  May drop things more often than usual and movements be less coordinated.
  • Visual problems.  May experience blurred vision, blindness or double vision.  Another first common symptom is Optic neuritis (Sudden loss of vision that is painful when moving eyes).
  • Sensory problems. May feel tingling, a pins and needles sensation or numbness.  May feel a band of tightness around your trunk or limbs or feeling of electricity moving down your back and limbs.
  • Balance problems.  May feel lightheaded or dizzy or feel like you are spinning.

As the disease progresses you may experience various symptoms as a result of the damage to the central nervous system.  Some of the symptoms you may have are tremors, pain and feeling stiff when you move. 

At least 80% of people with Multiple Sclerosis experience bladder dysfunction. Some of the symptoms of bladder dysfunction are frequency and/or urgency to urinate, hesitancy in starting urination, retention of urine, frequent nighttime urination and urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine). 

Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and speech difficulties are other symptoms that often occur in people living with Multiple Sclerosis.  

Fatigue is common symptom when living with Multiple Sclerosis and it can be difficult to treat. 

The disease can also affect your mental status.  Some of the symptoms affecting your mental status are that you are unable to think clearly.  You may have mood swings or even have depression. 

South Florida's weather can also affect people with MS. People living with Multiple Sclerosis will notice that they have intolerance to heat. They will experience a temporary worsening of symptoms when the weather is very hot or humid or if they run a fever, sunbathe, get overheated form exercise, or take very hot shower or bath.  This increase in body temperature or becoming overheated will result in making symptoms worse until the body has cooled down.

The course of the disease varies from person to person.  Some people may have minor problems while others may become seriously disabled.  Most people are somewhere in between.  Multiple Sclerosis generally follows one of the four courses:

  • Relapsing-remitting, where symptoms fade and then return off and on for years
  • Secondary progressive, which at first follows a relapsing-remitting course and then becomes progressive. 
  • Primary progressive where the disease is progressive from the start
  • Progressive relapsing, where the symptoms come and go but nerve damage steadily gets worse

 

There is currently no cure for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but it can be treated with the use of medications.  This treatment may delay or reduce the damage that Multiple Sclerosis does to the body.  Treatment with medications is started most times once you are diagnosed even though you may not have any symptoms and that is because damage may be occurring in your body even though you are not experiencing any symptoms.

Let Us Help

Living with Multiple Sclerosis is challenging.   Our compassionate team of professionals will assist you in living life to your fullest potential.   We can assist you in conserving your energy by hiring one of our compassionate reliable private duty home health aides to assist in performing those tasks such as assistance with bathing, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry and errands so that you can have energy to do the things you enjoy.    The personally selected private duty staff will also serve as a companion so you don’t feel isolated and alone. We can assist you in maintaining your social life whether it is by driving or escorting you to your friends and families homes and to events.

Allegiance Home Health and Rehab can become a powerful ally, helping you to conserve energy yet remain active when you aren’t symptomatic, as well as helping to manage the symptoms that arise. Call Allegiance today if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with MS.