Monday, June 2, 2008

In the News: Physicians, caregivers step into their patients' shoes

9News Colorado reports on the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers meeting last week in Denver...
May 30, 2008
by TaRhonda Thomas

Dr. Kathy Hanlon often treats patients with Multiple Sclerosis; but she has never experienced the crippling pain and physical difficulties they experience – until now.

"We hear what they say and what they feel, but being in their skin is another world," said the neurologist as she prepared to step into the Multiple Sclerosis simulator. The virtual device, developed by Biogen and the RJO Group, lets people feel the symptoms of MS. Gloves mimic tingling in the hands. A triggered treadmill illustrates difficulty in walking. A trick cup shows just how hard it is for people living with Multiple Sclerosis to pick up things.

"Multiple Sclerosis is a disease where the body's immune system makes a mistake and attacks the brain over and over again," said Dr. Timothy Vollmer, who will soon serve as the medical director of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center.

"The most common symptom is fatigue," he added. "Sensory problems, vision loss, numbness tingling… Anything the brain does, which is some form of human behavior, can be affected by this disease."

It is estimated that about 400,000 people in the United States suffer from MS. John Brako is one of those people. He attended the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers' annual conference which was held in Denver this week. "I hate having it," the 43-year-old struggled to say.

He says that people often wonder what he's going through. "'Why are you in a wheelchair?' They always ask me," he said. Doctors say inventions like the MS simulator could help patients, physicians, caregivers and family members better understand the struggles of living with MS. Read the complete story here.

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