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Developing a Healthcare Team

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Overview

Optimal management of your MS is best achieved by working with a comprehensive team of professionals. You may not need all of these members on your care team at any given time but it’s good to know who they are and how they can help if you need them. It’s also possible that there is a professional involved in your care that is not listed here.

MS healthcare team

You will likely work with one or a combination of the following specialists to manage your MS care:
  • Neurologist- physician trained in treating diseases of the nervous system
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)-trained in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions
    • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)- trained to use a whole-person approach to help prevent illness and injury
  • Advanced Practice Professional
    • Nurse practitioner- clinicians trained in diagnosing and treating health conditions with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management
    • Physician assistant- clinicians trained to diagnose illness and develop and manage treatment plans
In addition to your MS care provider, a comprehensive MS care team may also include:
  • Nurse—provides education, support and assists you with coordinating your care
  • Rehabilitation specialists — provide interventions to restore or maintain function
    • Physiatrist-physician trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation
    • Physical therapist- movement expert who optimize quality of life through exercise, hands-on care and education
    • Occupational therapist- experts who customize interventions to improve your ability to perform daily activities
    • Speech/language pathologist-expert in communication, including cognitive communication; can diagnose and treat swallowing problems
    • Neuropsychologist-expert trained in psychology and the cognitive functions of the brain
  • Mental health specialists — experts in emotional and mental health
    • Psychologist- trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat mental health conditions
    • Social worker-trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat mental health conditions; provide case management, advocacy and sometimes coordination of care
    • Psychiatrist-physician who diagnoses and treats mental health conditions
  • Wellness professionals- experts who use an integrated, holistic approach to health and well-being, focusing on all aspects of your lifestyle
    • Nutritionist- helps you form healthy eating habits to improve health and prevent disease
    • Wellness coach- helps you find lasting changes to promote your health and wellness
    • Naturopathic doctor- diagnose, prevent and treat illness to restore and establish optimal health through your inherent self-healing process
    • Personal trainer- expert in designing safe and effective fitness programs
  • Specialists — healthcare providers that specialize in areas other than neurology and can be helpful in managing symptoms or health conditions that affect or are affected by your MS
    • Ophthalmologists- physician who treatment disorders and diseases of the eye
    • Neuro-ophthalmologists-physician who treat visual problems that are related to the nervous system rather than to the eyes themselves
    • Gynecologist- physician who specializes in women's reproductive health
    • Obstetrician-physician who specializes in the care of women during and shortly after pregnancy
    • Urologists-physician who specializes in the treatment of urinary system conditions
  • Primary are provider — clinician who focuses on overall health and wellness; treats common illnesses
  • Pharmacist-dispenses and administers medications; provides education on medications, side effects and safety monitoring
Sometimes these team members are available in one center or your MS care provider will help you connect with them in your community. You many also visit our Find Doctors and Resources tool to find a provider or contact an MS Navigator for help.  
 

Find an MS care provider

The National MS Society’s Partners in MS Care program connects you to local health care providers and medical facilities that have demonstrated exceptional care, knowledge and expertise in treating patients with MS. All partners, whether they are a neurologist or social worker, have a strong relationship with the Society and connect their patients to the information, resources and support they need to live their best lives with MS. Find a Partner in MS Care.

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