March 13, 2017

UAB named Center of Comprehensive MS Care

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multiple sclerosis 2Multiple sclerosis involves an auto immune attack of the myelin coating around nerve fibers, and of the nerve fibers themselves. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Multiple Sclerosis Center has been designated a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is the highest designation in the three-tiered system developed by the NMSS, which will recognize UAB during its annual Birmingham Walk MS event April 8 at Regions Field.

UAB is now one of only seven such centers within a 200-mile radius of Birmingham. To achieve this status, an organization must offer a multidisciplinary model of care to address the often complex needs of persons with MS, and to offer access to a full array of coordinated medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services in which providers share common goals for patient outcomes. 

“The needs of patients with multiple sclerosis are varied and complicated, and need complex, comprehensive management,” said Khurram Bashir, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurology and director of the UAB MS Clinic. “Our focus is exclusively on MS. In conjunction with the UAB Division of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis, our faculty and staff are dedicated to patient care, research and education for MS.”

The NMSS application process is robust, and applicants undergo both local and national reviews. The UAB Comprehensive Center for MS Care has expanded its already extensive services with more nurses and other staff members trained in MS care, along with expanded offerings for pet therapy, mental health services and access to rehabilitation.

“Our Partners in MS Care is a national program that really defines a shared commitment to people living with multiple sclerosis,” said Andrew Bell, National MS Society chapter president. “Because of UAB’s outstanding commitment and knowledge, we are proud to partner with them to enhance comprehensive care for those living with MS. This award truly demonstrates both their expertise in and commitment to creating optimal care and support.”

The CPODD, under the direction of pediatric neurologist Jayne Ness, M.D., Ph.D., and housed at Children’s of Alabama, provides care for children across a broad range of medical specialties.

The comprehensive designation reflects the collaboration between the adult UAB MS Clinic and the Center for Pediatric-Onset Demyelinating Disease in the UAB Department of Pediatrics, which treats children with MS. The CPODD, under the direction of pediatric neurologist Jayne Ness, M.D., Ph.D., and housed at Children’s of Alabama, provides care for children across a broad range of medical specialties. Bashir, who is co-director of the CPODD, works with Ness and her team to transition pediatric MS patients to adult care at the appropriate time.

“This unique partnership between the adult and pediatric MS clinics of the UAB Multiple Sclerosis Center enables a natural transition for local CPODD patients entering adulthood and creates exceptional continuity of care as services continue through the Comprehensive Center for MS Care,” Ness said.

More than 2.3 million people have MS. Most are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. At least two to three times more women than men are diagnosed with MS.

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, disabling disease of the central nervous system. It is a lifelong condition that can range in severity from benign to devastating, with most patients falling between these two extremes. The damage caused by MS results from inflammation within the brain, optic nerves or spinal cord. 

While the trigger for this inflammation remains unknown, most researchers believe MS is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks the nerve-insulating myelin that coats nerve fibers and enables them to function normally. The initial trigger for MS most likely comes from the environment, possibly a virus; but once the disease is established, it continues of its own accord, driven by the immune system’s attack on healthy tissue.

For new adult patient appointments, call Neurology Scheduling and Referrals at 205-801-8986. For pediatric appointments, call 205-996-7850. For more information on multiple sclerosis and the UAB MS Center, click here.