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Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence


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Multiple Sclerosis Therapies

Treatments for MS focus on controlling the immune system and managing symptoms. The current goals for MS care are to reduce the frequency of relapses and to slow the progression of the disease by using a drug therapy approach called disease modifying treatments (DMTs). It is also important for people to work with their Health Care Providers to find the best approach to address MS symptoms like extreme fatigue, bladder problems and muscle spasms. MS symptoms can be managed with conventional medication, complementary and alternative medicine, physical therapy, mobility devices, and other self-care approaches. At this time, there is no cure for MS, but research continues to make great advancement in the understanding and treatment of this disease. Through the VA, Veterans have access to a multi-disciplinary team approach to treat MS.

The Multiple Sclerosis Emerging Therapies Collaborative is committed to developing and disseminating timely, evidence-based resources to persons affected by multiple sclerosis and health care professionals, in order to promote optimal, individualized treatment of the disease by facilitating effective communication and medical decision-making.
MS Disease Modifying Therapies Chart (2016)- permission to use from the MS Association of America
National MS Society MS Disease Modifying Therapies - 2016 - download booklet Current as of February 2016. The online brochure is updated with breaking news as required. If you download this booklet, periodically check for the updated online version at the National MS Society website.

MS Smartphone App for iPhone + Android + Blackberry Torch


News: October 2015
MRIs, gadolinium, and your health
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is very useful to show the areas in the brain and spinal cord affected by MS. These damaged areas are much more easily seen on MRI when gadolinium, a contrast agent, is infused into the bloodstream. On MRI, gadolinium looks bright in the MS-damaged areas. MRI with contrast is used to diagnosis MS as well as in follow-up to see how well a person’s disease-modifying therapy is working to control new MS damage in the brain and spinal cord. Gadolinium agents are also used for MRI scans of other parts of the body, because of the improved contrast they provide.

We used to think that gadolinium was eliminated from the bloodstream and body relatively quickly after infusion. However, recent studies have found that some people have gadolinium deposits still in the brain even many years after the last infusion. What’s important to note is that we have no evidence these deposits are harmful. Certainly, we need more research in this area, and that is what the FDA is doing.

The FDA has also advised that people not have gadolinium contrast with MRI scans unless necessary. You may want to talk with your MS specialist about how useful gadolinium contrast will be for your next MRI. Each Veteran’s medical history and condition is unique, so your MS specialist will want to talk over recommendations and how they apply to you as an individual.  Questions? Call or use MyHealth-eVet to contact your MS specialist.  National MS Society Announcement        FDA Safety Communication
Making the Decision to Use DMTs for Multiple Sclerosis 
James Bowen, MD, Medical Director,
Multiple Sclerosis Center--Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, WA

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment in MS
John Rose, MD, Chief of Neurology--VA Medical Center, Salt Lake City, UT

Acute Attacks
Multiple Sclerosis Treatments for Acute Attacks (Relapses) 
Marsha L Tarver, PhD, MA--VA Puget Sound Health Care System – Seattle, WA

Corticosteroids and Plasma Exchange Treatments for MS Acute Attacks
James Bowen, MD, Medical Director, Multiple Sclerosis Center--Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, WA

Monitoring for Cardiotoxicity in Patients with MS Post-Mitoxantrone Therapy: An Update 
Mitchell Wallin MD, MPH, Washington, DC VA Medical Center
Ruth Whitham MD, Portland VA Medical Center
Kathy Tortorice, Pharm D, Pharmacy Benefits Management, Hines VA Medical Center



Updated: March 2016