Online Resources Can Do Library
Support for the Partner

By: David Rintell, Ed.D., Psychologist & Can Do MS Programs Consultant

Being a support person to someone with MS often involves many challenges, but can also be enormously rewarding. One of the most significant challenges is to take care of oneself, and meet one’s own needs, while at the same time helping to support and care for a loved one. But we know that if you do not take care of yourself, you may become unable to provide support to the people you love.

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Strategies for Safe Eating and Swallowing

By: Can Do MS Programs Consultants:Janet DeClark, MA, CCC-SLP and Baldwin Sanders, MS, RD, LDN

Swallowing is a function that happens so automatically that we never give it much thought until something goes wrong. Most of us have experienced the occasional coughing and sputtering that comes with “swallowing down the Sunday throat.” However, when you have MS, those episodes can become more frequent and bothersome, to the point that they affect safety of oral intake. Swallowing problems, also known as “dysphagia,” can vary in MS from occasional episodes of something “going down the wrong throat” to more serious symptoms of unintended weight loss or repeated cases of pneumonia due to aspiration. Dysphagia can also have a negative impact on quality of life.

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Adaptive Equipment: How It Can Help You Exercise

By: Juliann Hanson-Zlatev, OTR and Kathy San Martino, PT, NCS, ATP/SMS, CLT-LANA, MSCS

When MS impairs your mobility more and more, exercise can pose yet one more challenge. For some the word “exercise” conjures up negative feelings or nervousness while for others, exercise represents ‘me time’, empowerment, a feeling of wellness, accomplishment, and taking care of yourself.

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Environmental Factors and MS

By: Pat Kennedy, RN, CNP, MSCN and Deborah M. Miller, PhD, LISW.

At the time of diagnosis, most patients are told that the absolute cause of MS and a cure are unknown. Hearing this makes most people feel a bit out of control concerning living with this disease. The reality is, however, that there are factors we know to enhance your health and to improve your quality of life. Knowing what some of these are gives you back some of that control and helps you to move forward by making some lifestyle modifications. We call that “control” empowerment and it truly allows you to make positive changes that will make a difference in your life.

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Aging with Multiple Sclerosis

By: Gail Hartley, MSN, NP, MSCN and Terry DiLorenzo, PhD

Approximately 25% of people with MS are 65 and older. The average older person with MS has been diagnosed for 20 years and is more likely to have a progressive form of MS. However, older individuals are less likely to have a regular MS care provider. In addition to MS symptoms, older individuals experience the typical changes associated with aging, which include having more physical health conditions, fatigue, weakness, pain, cognitive difficulties and need for assistance with activities of daily living.

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Bladder & Bowel Issues

By: Susan Kalota, MD, Urology

Peeing is not as easy as it sounds. The act of urinating voluntarily is a very complex act requiring functions of the brain, the spinal cord, nerves directly to the bladder or urethra, normal bladder muscles, normal urethral muscles and in men, a prostate that is not blocking the outlet. Unfortunately, MS is a disease of nerve function so it has the ability to affect bladder function in many different sites from the brain down to the bladder or urethra. Bladder issues are experienced by 50-80% of all people with MS.

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Managing Speech, Language and Cognitive Challenges

By: Pamela H. Miller, MA, CCC-SLP and Janet DeClark, MA, CCC-SLP

*Please note this library article has two parts, each answered by different MS medical professionals.

Difficulty with speaking clearly (dysarthria) may occur in up to 40% of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Problems may interfere with how easily a person’s speech can be heard and understood. They are typically mild to moderate, or worsened intermittently by MS-related fatigue. Changes in voice quality (dysphonia) may also occur, resulting in hoarseness, breathiness, and/or reduced loudness.

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Disability & Social Security Benefits in MS

By: Thomas M. Stewart, M.S., J.D., PA-C

You should be aware that your medical records may not provide objective evidence of your most significant impairments, and without objective evidence of disability, you may not receive disability benefits. In addition to consulting your health care team, consult expert legal counsel at any stage of the application process.

For details on applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, please follow the link below to read the National MS Society's Guidebook For People with MS and Their Healthcare providers, co-authored by Can Do MS Programs Consultant Roz Kalb, Ph.D., and fellow attorney Jamie Hall, Esq.

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Questions & Answers: Live with the Can Do MS Experts

By: Deborah M. Miller, PhD, LISW; Juliann Hansen-Zlatev, OTR; David E. Jones, MD

QUESTION: How do I handle and cope with knowing that I am going to live with MS for the rest of my life?

Answer from Deborah: Receiving the diagnosis of MS can be unsettling, for anyone at any age. It is important to know that there are different points along the continuum of life with MS. The person will go through a grieving process related to changes in their life that comes with the realization that MS is a part of their life. The key to managing this realization is that MS is only a part of your life, and there is much in the person’s life that remains as it was before their MS. It is very important to find a place for MS in their life without it being the entire focus of their life.

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Coping with MS: Using Rehabilitation to Enhance Resilence

By: Rosalind Kalb, PhD & Mandy Rohrig, PT, DPT

Multiple sclerosis often involves “stormy” periods that can rattle the foundations for you and your family members. The “storms” or challenges of MS may include adapting to the diagnosis, changes in functional abilities and the use of new or different adaptive devices, among other obstacles. Or, it may involve daily challenges such as driving independently or overcoming a fatiguing day of work. During such challenging times, you and your loved ones may feel down, exhausted and defeated. Learning to cope effectively with these obstacles helps strengthen and prepare you to meet future challenges. In other words, successful coping helps increase your resilience.

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