Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center
Malcolm Gottesman, MD, Co-Director, Institute for Neurosciences
Director, MS Treatment Program
Abigail McNall, FNP-BC, RN, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
Sharon Friedman-Urevich, RN, FNP, MS Treatment Program Coordinator
Eileen Boylan, RN, Certified in MS Care
Mary Rzeszut, MSW, LCSW – Neuroscience Social Worker
Download the Winthrop MS Brochure
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder involving the central nervous system (CNS) — the brain and spinal cord. The most common chronic disease of the CNS in young adults, MS affects as many as 2.5 million people worldwide, with women affected more often than men (National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2011). MS destroys the myelin, the membrane that “insulates” nerve cells and enhances nerve impulse conduction. Although the cause is unknown, considerable evidence indicates that an abnormal immune system renders the CNS vulnerable to attack — in error — by the body’s immune defenses. The attack, which focuses primarily on the myelin, interrupts nerve impulse conduction. New research has shown that nerve cells may also be injured — sometimes in the early stages of disease.
The cumulative loss of myelin may lead to long-term disability, making early diagnosis and initiation of treatment essential. Today, advances in treatment and research are bringing new hope to MS patients.
Since myelin damage is not limited to one area of the CNS, each patient can exhibit a variety of symptoms ranging from mild — numbness in the limbs — to severe — paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity and specific symptoms are unpredictable and vary with each individual.
Usually a detailed clinical history and physical examination, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and blood tests, are sufficient for diagnosing MS. Occasionally, additional specialized testing is needed. All necessary tests can be conducted at Winthrop-University Hospital.
Importance of Early Diagnosis & Treatment
While there is no cure for MS at this time, current treatments can help stabilize the disease. The medications are most beneficial when administered early in the course of the illness. Therefore, it is imperative to obtain an accurate diagnosis and initiate treatment as soon as possible. The term Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS) is a new designation that refers to patients who have an abnormal MRI suggestive of MS but no clinical symptoms. The term Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) refers to the first time a person has symptoms suggestive of multiple sclerosis. Individuals who experience RIS or CIS may, or may not, develop MS. The results of several well designed clinical trials support treating CIS early, which may delay the development of clinical disabilities. The treatment of RIS is an area of active research.
Currently, there are many different FDA-approved treatments for MS. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) recommends beginning treatment with one of the appropriate therapies as soon as diagnosis is confirmed, since the drugs help to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks, diminish the accumulation of lesions in the brain, and slow disability progression. In addition to medications, many other therapies are available to treat symptoms such as spasticity, pain, bladder problems, fatigue and weakness. Patients should consult MS specialists in order to develop individualized treatment plans to manage their disease.
The Winthrop Comprehensive MS Care Center is involved in many ongoing clinical research trials, including participation in the New York State MS Consortium since 1997. The Center has participated in many major research trials that have contributed to the development of new therapies for multiple sclerosis.
The Winthrop Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care Center is committed to assisting the patient and family in coping effectively with Multiple Sclerosis. It offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and humanistic approach to treatment and care, acknowledging the complex and variable nature of the disease. Our goal is to improve the lives of people with MS and their families through research, education and superior care.
We have been recognized by the National MS Society since 2000 as a center for comprehensive care, providing services that address the varied and often complex issues related to living with MS.