August 02, 2019
Pediatric health care is a big focus in the Philadelphia region, but in New Jersey, Rutgers Health has the sole dedicated pediatric multiple sclerosis program.
The program is specifically designed to provide support and treatment for children living with MS via cutting-edge therapies and clinical trials, and to educate them and their family members about the disorder, according to Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Each patient in the program receives a comprehensive care plan addressing education, cognition, social functioning, mental health, daily activities, and quality of life.
According to Multiple Sclerosis News Today, an estimated 8,000 U.S. children live with MS, and relapses of the disorder are much more common in younger patients. As a result, a synergistic approach calling upon disease-modifying medications and complementary therapies — like physical therapy — are beneficial.
“Every day that a patient lives with MS, the disease is working against them. The challenge is not knowing if what we do now will be effective in the future,” said Dr. Vikram Bhise, associate professor of pediatrics and chief of neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities at Rutgers.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society explains the disease as “immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system.” Common symptoms include fatigue, numbness and tingling, blurred vision, double vision, weakness, poor coordination, imbalance, pain, depression and problems with memory and concentration. The cause of the disorder is unknown.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is home to the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Neuroinflammatory Disorders Clinic.