Optimistic Outlook in Treating Multiple Sclerosis


Clinicians suggest improved communication between partners and striking an optimistic tone with patients can be encouraging for patients with multiple sclerosis.

June Halper, MSN, MSCN: Fred, what advice would you give your patients, although you know Kathy and Ann for a long time. How did you get this thing? I know you were involved for a very long time. What words did you use? What strategies did you use that you think worked and would work with others?

Frederick Foley, PhD: Well, everyone’s situation is different. Everyone’s relationships are unique, so it’s just important to find out and understand what is the nature of the relationship and what are the strengths and what are the weaknesses, and to kind of develop a strategy to shore up the strengths to improve communication between the partners. If you can do that, I found that if I can help them improve their communication, most of the time they’ll just work things out themselves. That’s a key strategy.

June Halper, MSN, MSCN: Dr. Coyle, I know you’re sitting and listening to all this. I know you have hundreds of patients and probably face similar relationship challenges. How do you handle it? I know they probably all look to you for advice and support, but I know you also have nurses and psychologists at your place.

Patricia K. Coyle, MD: I think quality of life is very important, and you can start by saying how do you think about being diagnosed with MS. If at all possible, it’s better to be optimistic than to be pessimistic. It’s better to look at the glass half full than the glass empty. Bad things are going to happen to all of us. Bad things are going to happen to good people. If you hear you have MS and you view it as this horrible thing and you dwell on that, that is a negative. That’s not producing a good quality of life.

I try to be very encouraging. I tell my patients, “Our expectation is that you’re going to live a normal life. If you really do the right things, if we treat you appropriately, if you follow a wellness program, if you take care of comorbid conditions, you can live a normal life. We can work together to have you have a normal life because MS has been transformed in the new era.” As disability may develop and as symptoms develop, they can also have very negative impacts on quality of life. Important to communicate, important to recognize, important to try to treat to let the individual know that you’re doing the best you can what are the ways of coping and you really encourage that they have a support system. I have no problem having a family member come in with the patient to sit right there, to be for the whole thing, the whole visit. That’s fine because you’re hearing the patient and their significant other, hear everything that’s being said, be able to ask questions. I think that helps the support system. These are just some of the things that I think you need to be very cognizant of.

June Halper, MSN, MSCN: I want to thank you all for watching and joining us at this NeurologyLive® Cure Connections®. If you enjoyed this program, please subscribe to the e-newsletter to receive upcoming information about other programs. I’d like to thank you all for the time and I thank you all for this wonderful opportunity and hope to see you all again.

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