A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be a scary, life altering event—but there are plenty of resources available for newly diagnosed patients who are looking for answers or help.
That’s the message Neurologist Gary Beaver, DO, shares with the men and women he sees through the University of Minnesota Health Multiple Sclerosis program. Beaver, the medical director of the program, ensures that patients are equipped with the best resources, treatment plans and information possible to help manage their multiple sclerosis.
To mark National MS Education and Awareness Month in March, we’ve asked Beaver to share five insights and tips for newly diagnosed MS patients.
“It can have a minimal impact on their lives,” Beaver said, “There’s been a dramatic change over the last 15 to 20 years compared to when we had only one treatment in 1993.”
Beaver cautions patients to be wary of fad diets marketed to aid with the treatment of multiple sclerosis, because no MS diet has been proven effective. Instead, he recommends eating healthy and exercising regularly while trying to minimize consumption of processed food and fast food.
Newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients are not alone in their treatment, Beaver said. University of Minnesota Health offers a wealth of resources through its multiple sclerosis program, which employs specialists at three locations in the Twin Cities region.
“We have everything MS patients need to effectively manage their disease,” Beaver said. Patients can also call the program and talk with a staff member about their symptoms. Outside of the University of Minnesota Health system, Beaver said the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society also serves as an excellent resource for patients.
Because patients build a lifelong relationship with their care team, they need to work effective with their providers, follow the prescribed treatment approach and ask questions at every step of the way, Beaver said.
“We take a team approach between the patient, the physician and our nurses so we can identify the problems are and get to the root cause of any symptoms,” he said.
People living with MS should look at it as a treatable medical conditions and not as a debilitating, untreatable condition.
“Hypertensive patients have to take their medication, diabetics have to use their insulin — this isn't any different. MS is disease that has to be controlled. If you don’t control it, it will cause you problems down the line, just like other diseases,” Beaver said.