Amid an ongoing national shortage of clinicians who treat neurologic diseases like MS, the cochair of the International Organization of MS Rehabilitation Therapists discussed the availability of rehabilitation professionals for patients.
“Unfortunately, if patients get a referral for therapy and they’re not directed to specialized care, they might just say, ‘Oh, the corner therapist is more convenient to me.’ And maybe they’re getting good care there, but maybe it’s an ortho-based philosophy of care, which is not the most effective or efficient or the standard of practice for MS care.”
For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), like many neurologic and neurodegenerative diseases, the need for physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine as a part of the care paradigm is imperative to ensure good outcomes. Although many patients seek care at larger institutions with multidisciplinary care teams, there remains a gap in access to good rehabilitative professionals for a number of the 2 million individuals in the US with MS.
Patricia Bobryk, MHS, PT, MSCS, ATP, explained to NeurologyLive that the reasons for this stem from a number of places, including the supply-and-demand issue related to the number of available physical therapists with specialized training. Patients with MS often require a specific approach that not all rehabilitative professionals can provide without proper education. This can lead to individuals utilizing benefits to see providers who may not be able to offer them the precise type of care they require.
To find out more about these challenges and the efforts that are ongoing to address them, Bobyrk, who is a physical therapist at UC Health and the cochair of the International Organization of MS Rehabilitation Therapists (IOMSRT), shared her insight from more than 20 years of experience in the field. She also spoke to the underutilized tools and underrecognized needs that must be used and met for these patients—the care for much of which may only be available from specialized clinicians.