Challenges in Progressive MS Rehabilitation: Kathy Zackowski, PhD, OTR


The senior director of patient management, care, and rehabilitation research at the National MS Society discussed challenges in care and rehabilitation in patients with progressive MS.

“The cumulation of symptoms [in progressive MS] really becomes a problem and makes rehabilitation difficult, because it's hard to know how to address these issues that have been getting worse over time. I would really recommend to people at the very beginning, even when you're initially diagnosed, to get an evaluation from a physical therapist or occupational therapist to get a baseline of where you're at.”

A recent paper has called for action in the field of progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) to prioritize certain areas of research. The paper was published by the International Progressive MS Alliance, made up of MS organizations across the world. The alliance aims to identify and bring to attention important issues in progressive MS that need more research and funding.

One such organization in the alliance is the National MS Society, and Kathy Zackowski, PhD, OTR, its senior director of patient management, care, and rehabilitation research, served as first author of the paper. Zackowski and colleagues isolated 4 symptoms that they believe need to be targeted in progressive MS research: fatigue, pain, mobility and upper extremity impairment, and cognitive impairment. They stressed the fact that research in these symptoms is mostly done in relapsing MS as opposed to progressive MS.

NeurologyLive spoke with Zackowski to learn more about the challenges in progressive MS rehabilitation. She stressed that newly diagnosed patients should get an evaluation from a physical or occupational therapist to establish a baseline in their disease course.

Zackowski KM, Freeman J, Brichetto G, et al. Prioritizing progressive MS rehabilitation research: A call from the International Progressive MS Alliance. Mult Scler J. Published online March 15, 2021. doi: 10.1177/1352458521999970
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