Multiple Sclerosis: Where to Turn for Professional Help
When you’re facing a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, several key players can help you identify your options and support your decision-making efforts along the way. First and foremost on this list are MS professionals. Referrals to professionals who are knowledgeable about MS are available from the National MS Society (800-FIGHT-MS) or from the Consortium of MS Centers. Your personal physician may also be familiar with specialists in the area.
Consider the following professionals:
MS specialist neurologists and nurses: These professionals are the best sources of information about treatment. It’s their job to get to know you and your MS, and to recommend the treatment options that will be most beneficial for you.
MS specialists can also offer helpful information about the course of your MS and any indicators about how your MS may progress down the road. Even though they can’t make definitive predictions, they can certainly tell you the factors that you need to be thinking about as you consider your treatment and lifestyle options.
If the health professionals with whom you’re dealing aren’t willing or able to have this kind of conversation with you, it may be time to look around.
Rehabilitation professionals (including physical and occupational therapists): Rehabilitation professionals can help you function at your best by doing the following:
Evaluating your needs and making recommendations for home and office modifications to increase accessibility and conserve energy
Identifying tools and adaptive devices to enhance your comfort, productivity, and safety
Designing a personalized exercise programs to enhance your health, safety, and mobility
Vocational counselors: These counselors are trained to help you think through your employment options. Depending on your career path and the kinds of MS symptoms you’re experiencing, you may want to discuss with a counselor how best to safeguard your future earning power.
Financial consultants: Financial consultants can help you plan for the financial uncertainties of the future, such as reduced income due to disability-related retirement, treatment costs, and the possible need for long-term care of some kind.