Effective treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) begins with early and proper diagnosis. However, the episodic nature of the disease as well as the fact that no two cases are alike can make it difficult to diagnose even in the best hands, notes Mac McLaughlin, MD , an MS-trained neurologist who works at the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at The Nebraska Medical Center and an assistant professor of Neurological Sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).
“Getting the right diagnosis and starting the right medications early in the disease is important for the overall disease outcome,” says Dr. McLaughlin. “If we can get a patient started on medications very early in the disease course, we can maximize the ability to slow down the progression of the disease.”
The use of MRI has greatly improved diagnosis of the disease and has made it possible to diagnose the disease earlier in the disease process. “An MRI image can show areas of active inflammation, which indicates active involvement of MS,” says Dr. McLaughlin.
“Because of the multiple types of medications available in addition to keeping up with the changing symptoms, the disease can be difficult to manage,” says Dr. McLaughlin. “That’s where a multi-disciplinary clinic like ours can really help patients stay on top of the disease to control symptoms and slow the progression.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Clinic is one of the most comprehensive in the region. The clinic, which follows more than 1,500 MS patients, staffs the only two MS-trained medical specialists in the area and is supported by an experienced and dedicated MS staff of physical therapists, case managers and physician assistants. Patients also benefit from the expertise of specialists in areas such as physical and occupational therapy, psychiatry, neuro-ophthalmology, pain, urology and OB/GYN.
The Multiple Sclerosis Clinic provides a comprehensive approach to MS care that addresses the physical, psycho-social and economic situation of each patient. Because MS affects each person differently, treating the whole person and their individual symptoms can make a significant difference in their quality of life, says Dr. McLaughlin. Our clinic is a partner with the patient throughout their lifetime.