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Multiple Sclerosis and the L&D

This week is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. We want to assist in raising awareness about the condition and the services available to patients and their families.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex long term neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is progressive and causes physical, sensory, emotional and cognitive disabilities, often with significant fatigue.

The complexity of the condition means the symptoms are different for each person; it takes a variable course and is unpredictable. It poses a great challenge to the individual, families and health care professionals.

There are an estimated 100,000 people with MS in UK. Currently there are 600 people within the local population accessing our services.

In recent years there has been an advance of treatment options for people with MS (PWMS) in the management of their MS relapses. NICE guidelines are being met and the latest evidence based treatments are provided. This means that our patients don’t have to make a difficult journey to other hospitals that are further away for their treatment.

Following diagnosis patients do not necessarily see their neurologist regularly but they can be accessed at any time when deemed necessary.

All healthcare professionals involved with PWMS aim to minimise hospital admissions.

PWMS have been seen by therapists at the Luton and Dunstable hospital for over 30 years and in recent years a dedicated Specialist multi-disciplinary team (MDT) provides a recognised service for local people with MS. The MDT includes Neurologists, Specialist Nurses , Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Speech and Language Therapist and a Clinical Psychologist.

The service includes assessments and treatment on an individual basis or in group sessions or domiciliary visits where appropriate. Development of coping strategies to assist the PWMS to self-manage a variety of symptoms/problems is an integral part of treatment covered by the whole multi-disciplinary team. This often involves liaising with other health and social care professionals, family and carers.

There is an increasing demand on the service which has led to more integrated working and new innovative developments for PWMS e.g.:

  • A weekly community-based exercise session held in Hightown, Luton. This is a joint enterprise with the Luton Dunstable & District Branch of the MS Society, Active Luton and supported by the MS Physiotherapist and MS Specialist Nurse from the Luton & Dunstable Hospital. The MS Branch continues to develop additional social and support activities.
  • The tree of life, a narrative approach to helping PWMS move towards acceptance and adjust to the emotional challenges that can arise whatever the stage of MS. This is delivered jointly by a Clinical Psychologist and the Occupational Therapist.

The highly trained professionals have provided teaching and training to health care professionals and service users, presenting at local and national conferences. The service user feedback has been incredibly positive, and is used to help shape the service.

Testimonials received from patients with MS to L&D Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist include:

  • “All aspects of the sessions were very relevant and enjoyable. I learnt a lot about the condition and how to cope with it”
  • “Very informative and supportive”
  • “Exercises tailored especially for people with MS”
  • “Relaxation techniques help me to cope with excessive tiredness”
  • “Appropriate exercises and actions to help release stiffness helped my mobility”
  • “Practical helpful strategies”
  • “Physiotherapist & Occupational Therapist make a brilliant team”
  • “I was impressed by the knowledge of the Physiotherapist & Occupational Therapist”