At the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute, our team of multidisciplinary clinical staff focuses on your multiple sclerosis treatment and rehabilitation. With functional ability and independence as the primary goals of your treatment, our patients are provided with access to:
- Psychological counseling
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Vocational therapy
- Speech and language pathology
Our experienced staff is available to assist you in different phases of MS treatment and also provide education and support. The Multiple Sclerosis Center is affiliated with the Long Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society which provides a link between clients at the center and community resources.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed down or stopped. MS is a progressive disease, meaning that the nerve damage, or neurodegeneration, gets worse over time. How quickly multiple sclerosis worsens will vary from person to person.
As a new patient at the Multiple Sclerosis Center, you will be evaluated to determine the most effective approach to treatment. Based on an interdisciplinary model of individualized care, the Multiple Sclerosis Center offers comprehensive neurologic care, while focusing on symptomatic management and the latest in treatments for multiple sclerosis.
A variety of oral, injectable and infusion drugs are available to modify the course of multiple sclerosis to reduce disease relapses. Our physicians specialize in creating a tailored regimen for each patient depending on his or her needs. Drugs used to modify the disease course include interferon beta-1a, peginterferon beta-1a, teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate and alemtuzumab. Corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone and prednisone may also be used to manage inflammation associated with MS relapses.
Our physicians may prescribe medications to help alleviate many of the accompanying symptoms of MS, including bladder and bowel dysfunction, depression, pain, fatigue, sexual problems, spasticity and infection, among others.
Northwell Health’s comprehensive rehabilitation program can help patients address many of the functional challenges of living with multiple sclerosis. We work closely with physical and occupational therapists to manage patient needs, including joint weakness, gait instability, splinting and bracing to improve daily activities. Vocational rehabilitation is also available to help individuals address challenges in the workplace or to assist them in exploring new employment opportunities.
Helping patients adapt to their assistive devices and wheeled mobility options can be another essential part of rehabilitation. Wheelchair positioning is especially important for reducing pressure points on the body, which preserves skin integrity and prevents ulcers and infections. Speech and language therapists are also available to patients who are having problems with dysarthria, nasal speech and dysphagia. They can also help patients with adapting to assistive speech devices.
Multiple Sclerosis Causes
It is still not understood what exactly causes multiple sclerosis, though there are a few possibilities under investigation. Some possible causes of multiple sclerosis include the following:
- Viruses – microscopic organisms consisting of genetic material (RNA or DNA) surrounded by a protein, lipid (fat), or glycoprotein coat
- Autoimmune disorders – conditions which occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue
- Environmental factors – factors relating to the impact of environment
- Genetic factors – factors relating to the impact of genetics
Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis are erratic and may be mild or severe. It is common to have an attack followed by a period of recovery. These attacks are called exacerbations and remissions. Other times, symptoms are progressive and may appear in various combinations, depending on the area of the nervous system affected.
Initial symptoms of multiple sclerosis may include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Red-green color distortion
- Pain and loss of vision due to optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve)
- Difficulty walking
- Paresthesia (abnormal sensation or pain, such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles")
Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis may include any or all of the following:
- Muscle weakness in the extremities
- Difficulty with coordination – impaired walking or standing may result; partial or complete paralysis is possible
- Spasticity – increased muscle tone leading to stiffness and spasms
- Loss of sensation
- Speech problems
- Hearing loss
Many people with multiple sclerosis experience cognitive impairments related to their disease. The effects of these impairments may be mild or severe and may include difficulty with any of the following:
Education and psychosocial support are cornerstones of the Multiple Sclerosis Center that can help you continue to make strides in your fight against MS.
Education and support services at the Multiple Sclerosis Center include:
- Individual education and counseling
- Visiting nurse referrals
- Linkages with community resources
- Professional and peer-led support groups
- Family support conferences
- Referrals to: