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By Clotilde M. Hainline, MD

Patients First: Our Team Approach to Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

MS is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own central nervous system, affecting the optic nerves, brain and spinal cord. It can cause a variety of neurological and physical symptoms, causing potentially debilitating problems with speech, vision, sensation and movement, among other challenges.

Thirty-four years ago, Dr. Corey Ford founded the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at UNM Health. Under his leadership, the first clinical trials were offered to patients. Thanks to his tireless efforts, our MS clinic continues to offer the most cutting-edge therapeutics for patients with MS.

We are currently participating in several clinical trials, providing patients with access to state-of-the-art treatments that would otherwise be unavailable. in addition to offering a patient-centric approach to holistic care. Our researchers have made significant progress against this complex autoimmune condition.

Today, the UNM Health MS Specialty Clinic is the only dedicated MS clinic in New Mexico. We care for a diversity of patients from across New Mexico and surrounding states following a patient-centered approach that brings together a team of specialists to offer a holistic approach to MS care.

While MS is a serious condition, many patients live long, healthy, active lives because of advancements in diagnosis and treatment. When it’s detected early enough, the hope is to put the disease into remission, which is more achievable now thanks to high-efficacy therapy.

A New Approach to MS Treatment

Traditionally, MS treatment has followed a stepwise approach. Patients began treatment with therapies that were less effective but had a longer track record, and often relapsed through several medications before going to high efficacy treatments.

In the meantime, the disease progressed and valuable time was lost.

Thanks to a paradigm shift in how we treat MS—and emerging disease-modifying therapies—treatment is now more efficient and effective. We can start patients out on relatively safe, highly effective drugs initially because we have a deeper understanding of the side effects and risks. In many cases, we’re able to stop MS in its tracks.

Symptom management is a collaborative process. In close consultation with the patient, we help patients maintain their lifestyle and continue the activities that bring them joy.

Thoughtful Care for the Whole Patient

Our approach is to care for the whole patient beyond their MS symptoms. We see our patients for many years, building rapport and trust as we manage care throughout the course of this often progressive disease.

Many patients with MS also have underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health disorders that, when optimized, enable better control of their MS as well as their overall general health.

We’re also dedicated to learning from our patients and their families. We see patients from a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds, and we tailor our holistic approach to their cultural needs and personal preferences.

Our patients also teach us about how they’re adapting to the challenges of MS. New adaptive equipment technologies come along every day, and some patients even build their own. From modified computers to mobility and communication aids, our patients impress us with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. We catalog these innovations to share with other patients, benefiting everyone in a collaborative approach.

Continued Innovations and Clinical Trials

We’ve come a long way, but we still have farther to go. One pressing challenge we are currently addressing through clinical research is non-active secondary progressive MS. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for this sub-type of MS, and we’re currently participating in clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of these drugs.

If you have been diagnosed with MS and want to join a clinical trial, call 505-925-4124 for more information.

Categories: Neurology