An Overview of Multiple Sclerosis: Diagnosis and Management Strategies

Kathleen Costello, RN, MS, CRNP, MSCN; Colleen J. Harris, RN, MN, NP, MSCN


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2006;6(1) 

In This Article

A Comprehensive Approach to Care

Rapid advances in MS care and treatment have changed care patterns over the past 2 decades. To meet the multitude of specialized care needs, it is necessary to involve multiple disciplines in a comprehensive care model. The comprehensive care team consists of a well-informed person with MS and the family and care partners who work closely with a team that may consist of primary care providers, a neurologist, specialized nurses, rehabilitation specialists, a psychologist, and social workers. Care reaches beyond a clinical setting to the home, workplace, and even recreational facilities with the ultimate goal of empowering patients to reach their full potential of independent functioning.

In support of the concept of patient empowerment in the context of comprehensive care, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers developed principles to serve as a guide for the care of those affected by MS.[41] These principles should be considered at all levels of disease involvement including the prediagnostic period, at initial diagnosis, during periods of mild to moderate limitation, as well as during severe limitation in functioning. These ideals are geared to provide individuals with MS with the following:

  • Full and timely access to healthcare

  • Timely and accurate diagnosis of MS, MS symptoms, and nonrelated MS symptoms

  • Accurate information and skilled advice provided by experts in MS care

  • Treatment that is timely, appropriate, and cost-effective

  • Collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to care

  • Care that is sensitive to culture

  • Support for health-related quality-of-life issues

Comprehensive care is challenging in healthcare settings that are plagued with the task of cost containment. There is a role for any healthcare provider involved in MS care to advocate for appropriate levels of care in this chronic illness. It is imperative that care be adapted throughout the disease trajectory and that all involved in this care be informed about the pathology, treatment advances, and management strategies that will empower an individual with MS to live an independent and productive life. (See Table 5 .)


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