The staff neurologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for MS detailed some of the negative impacts issues with access to neurologists and MS care centers can have on patient diagnosis and longterm prognosis. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]
WATCH TIME: 4 minutes
"If they have bladder symptoms, spasticity problems, or gait issues, as a neurologist, we can start to address those things, but we often need a really good multidisciplinary team to care for these patients long term."
The care for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) often incorporates several different specialists in addition to a traditional neurologist. These patients experience a range of difference symptoms, including fatigue, numbness and tingling, loss of balance, tremor, pain, bladder problems, bowel trouble, vision issues, and problems with memory and thinking. Comorbidities are also common throughout the disease course, from symptom onset through diagnosis to the end of life.
Earlier this year, a group of investigators published research on the geographic disparities in access to neurologists and MS care in the US with over 70,000 census tracts included. Led by Marisa McGinley, DO, lower spatial access to neurologists was seen for census tracts that were micropolitan and rural, had a higher proportion of underrepresented minorities, uninsured people, and disabled individuals. For MS centers, covariates of access were similar to neurologists, but there were fewer MS centers leading to poorer geospatial access across the US, indicating further barriers to receiving subspeciality care.
In an interview with NeurologyLive®, McGinley, a staff neurologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for MS, discussed some of the negative downstream effects limited access to neurologists and MS care centers has on patients with MS. She spoke specifically on the importance of timely diagnosis and early intervention, as well as the considerable need for multidisciplinary specialists that alleviate the workload of general neurologists.