Thursday, June 28, 2012
London Health Sciences Centre
LHSC's Motor Neuron Diseases Clinic Provides One-Stop Shopping for Patients
A focus on the MND Clinic for ALS Awareness Month
Patients diagnosed with a motor neuron disease including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as ALS), primary lateral sclerosis (or PLS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) as well as other motor neuropathies receive consultation, support and care in one place.
The motor neuron disease (MND) team has been helping care for patients with motor neuron diseases for more than 30 years.
The clinic sees about 200 patients annually, each of whom will typically spend the entire day in clinic every three- to six-months. During their visit they have access to the entire multi-disciplinary MND team, including physicians Dr. Christen Shoesmith and Dr. Michael Strong, a nurse, speech pathologists, social worker, dietitian, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and respiratory therapist. They may also run into the research coordinator if they are taking part in a research trial, the administrative assistant who helps coordinate all of their appointments, and a dedicated volunteer who provides a friendly and familiar face while helping to navigate their various appointments.
"It's like one-stop shopping for our patients," says Dr. Christen Shoesmith, MND clinic director who adds that patients are seen across the continuum of care, from diagnosis through to the end stages of their disease.
The MND team is one of the largest adult multi-disciplinary health care teams in the country and the clinic has become an international referral centre, seeing Canadian patients from Alberta to Newfoundland and others from as far as Europe and Asia.
Many of these patients also participate in research trials that can offer hope of a better quality of life. Currently the MND team is involved in two clinical trials: one looking at the use of an existing drug to slow the progression of ALS; and the other looking at a drug with neuro-protective qualities to help prolong life.
For patients with ALS, their breathing muscles will weaken as the disease progresses and they need occasional assistance with respiratory ventilation, provided through a BiPAP machine.
Dr. David Leasa, a respirologist at LHSC who also consults on MND patient cases, recently obtained permanent funding for a chronic ventilation clinic which will allow MND clinic patients requiring BiPAP the ability to have it initiated in an outpatient setting, where before they would need to be admitted to hospital for one or two days.
This is a clear improvement in care for our patients, says Dr. Shoesmith who credits Dr. Leasas tenacity in securing the funding for this new outpatient service.
Dr. Shoesmith says she enjoys the relationships that she is able to build with her patients and their families; and with the medical advances and research over the last few years, she says there is definitely hope of one day having more effective treatment.
The science behind motor neuron diseases is rapidly evolving and there is great hope that treatment breakthroughs are on the horizon.
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext 74772