Swedish News Blog

MS Research Update: New MS tests could improve predictions of cognitive impairment

Pavle Repovic, MD, PhD

Cognitive dysfunction in multiple sclerosis (MS) is a recognized, but poorly understood phenomenon. Detection of cognitive dysfunction is hampered by the fact that cognitive testing is often long, sometimes costly and at times frustrating for patients. A brief, acceptable screening tool for cognitive dysfunction in MS is lacking.

A new study shows potential progress toward such a tool. Authors of a paper published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal describe a 10-minute battery of computerized tests that was able to identify with fairly good sensitivity those patients who experienced cognitive impairment. This study, like several other similar efforts, awaits verification before they are more broadly accepted. It is hoped that such tools will come at no or minimal cost to the patients.

Identifying cognitive dysfunction early may be important because, according to a second study published in Neurology, early treatment is more likely to ...

Seattle Channel highlights Swedish MS Center research

Kate Floyd

Kate Floyd
Education Coordinator, Swedish MS Center

Thousands of people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) each year. The Pacific Northwest is home to more than 12,000 people living with the disease. Our area is also making great strides in research to find the cause and new treatments for MS.

The Seattle Channel featured a health special Thursday documenting the lives people affected by the disease and the progress area doctors and scientists are making. In the health special, the Seattle Channel highlights research at the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center that is advancing what we know and how docs treat the disease.

Watch the video for the full story, including an interview with Dr. James Bowen, a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, and a look inside the MS Center at Swedish:

 

Restoring cognition in multiple sclerosis

Angeli Mayadev, MD

Angeli Mayadev, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

Cognitive dysfunction is common in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and can be present from initial diagnosis through late stages of the disease.  The most common issues are problems with:

  • Attention

  • Information processing (thinking)

  • Learning and memory

Recent papers have looked into which rehabilitative strategies would most help these issues.  A new study published in the journal Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair shows how one specific intervention could improve or restore impaired attention functions in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) who experienced major attention deficits....

Dr. Bowen tackles mysteries of MS in Scientific American MIND

Kate Floyd

Kate Floyd
Education Coordinator, Swedish MS Center

The last 20 years have held significant gains for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Thanks to new studies and a full pipeline of those to come, our understanding of the disease and promises for future remedies grows rapidly.

Dr. James Bowen, Medical Director and neurologist at the MS Center at Swedish, wrote an article on this progress n Scientific American MIND. "Solving the Mystery of MS" unpacks the history of MS treatments, from breakthrough treatments to rethinking the disease origin, and offers a comprehensive view of what we know now as well as what lays ahead.

 

MS Research Update: Birth month may affect your risk for multiple sclerosis

James D. Bowen, MD

There are many studies that show that the risks for getting multiple sclerosis (MS) vary according to the month a person is born. However, the differences between the months of birth are slight.

 

For example, a 2005 study of people with MS living in northern latitudes found that more people (9.1%) had a birthday in May and significantly less (8.5%) were born in November. The opposite pattern is seen in the southern hemisphere. Thus, worldwide there is a slight increase in MS risk in those born in the spring and a decrease in those born in the winter.

 

The cause of this has not been determined. Some ideas include differences in:

  • Vitamin intake during pregnancy (more folate in fresh vegetables in the spring, more vitamin D from sunlight in the summer)

  • Birth weight - Heavier babies born after summer and fall pregnancies
  • Exposure to viruses - More people experience viruses in spring and fall. This may affect the not only the viruses a baby is exposed to during pregnancy, but also after birth.

 

A recent article in JAMA Neurology describes ...

Employment Matters: New Workshop Series for Multiple Sclerosis

Kate Floyd

Kate Floyd
Education Coordinator, Swedish MS Center

What do I tell my boss? Will I have to quit? How will I afford my future?

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can come with a lot of uncertainty and questions about the future. But it does not have to be career-ending. Learning about your employment options and planning ahead can help you make informed decisions about your career.

Beginning May 8, 2013, the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute will offer free workshops to help people navigate their employment options. Employment Matters is a monthly series  designed to prepare people with the knowledge to confidently approach challenges, build a career plan and strengthen their employment options.

Shaheen Virani, CRC, leads the Employment Matters workshops. Shaheen is a rehabilitation counselor who specializes in helping people with MS make plans and decisions to support their individual employment needs--whether it is to continue working, make a career change or apply for disability.

Here are a few Employment Matters topics coming up this spring (or click here for the full 2013 schedule):

MS Research Update: How reliable are biomarkers measured by multiple providers?

Angeli Mayadev, MD

Angeli Mayadev, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

Mobility issues secondary to strength, balance, and walking problems affect up to 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Providers and therapists use a variety of scales and tools to measure the extent of these issues such as:

 

  • The Berg Balance Scale (BBS) is a measure of balance that uses a 14-item scale and is scored based upon the results 0-56.
  • The 6-minute walk (6MW) is a measure of walking endurance.
  • Handheld Dynamometry (HHD) is a way to quantify manual muscle strength testing.

 

There is a lot of emerging research about “MS biomarkers,” which are values that look for ways to predict how patients will do in the future. The above tests are “physical biomarkers” of patient performance that may be able to be used as measures of disease state and change over time.

 

Often patients and clinicians are left wondering how accurate the results of these tests are. For instance, if provider A performs a functional test on a patient, will provider B get the same results if administering the same test to the same patient?

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