Sunday, May 1, 2011

MS Service Dogs and New MS Treatments

Today I went to a MS programed called Therapeutic Updates in Multiple Sclerosis sponsored by MS Active Source and the following neurologists were the speakers:
Ellen Lathi, MD
Director, Multiple Sclerosis Center, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston

Joshua D. Katz, MD
Neurologist, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Boston
Peter B. Wade, MD
Medical Director, Mandell Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center, Hartford, CT 

Since Dr. Katz is my neurologist I was looking forward to hearing him speak.  I've seen both him and Dr. Lathi speak before and I enjoy hearing their presentations.  Dr. Katz spoke about new treatments for MS including Gilenya which is the first ever oral medication for MS and is now available to patients.  He also talked about other oral medications which are in Stage 3 of the trial/FDA approval process.  It was interesting to hear about the drugs of the future and it is exciting to know I will have options on what I want to take.  Looking forward to the future when I don't have to give myself shots anymore!  Not quite ready to make the leap to Gilenya yet since it is still so new but hopeful it will continue to be effective with few side effects for patients.  Dr. Katz also used an anology about the immune system to explain how each of the medications work which was really helpful in understanding it all a little better.

Dr. Lathi had her MS Service dog, Georgia, with her today (as she always does).  Georgia is a black lab and 1 year old.  Dr Lathi has been raising her since she was a puppy and taking her to training classes so she can one day be a MS Service Dog for a person living with MS.  I have met Georgia several times and I am always so impressed to see how well trained she is already!  She is so calm and sweet. 

Another dog in the program is Brinkley.  He is a Golden Retriever and also 1 year old.  Brinkley's sister is also in the program.  There is also one new puppy in the program who is just a few months old.  They are looking for more puppy trainners so that they can grow the program.  Oh and I LOVE Brinkley.  He is so adorable.  When I went over to pet him I got down on the floor and he immediately licked my face.  It was cute.  He is like a big teddy bear.  Whoever gets him will be very fortunate - not only b/c he will make a wonderful companion but b/c he will be able to help them so much in their day to day life.

The dog's in the program will all be given to patient's at the MS Center at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center.  The more dogs they train the more people who will get help.  Are you interested in being a home for a puppy?  Read more below about the program:

Do you want to improve the life of someone with MS? Do you like dogs? Consider raising an MS service dog puppy! This is a significant, but very rewarding commitment. The dogs, labrador or golden retrievers, are trained for about two years before being placed with a recipient. The dogs are purchased by the program, and veterinary care and classes with professional trainers are subsidized by the program.
These dogs serve many purposes in the life of someone with MS. They help in getting people out and interacting with others. They provide companionship. They can help with mobility. They can retrieve and carry items the owner has dropped. They can turn on lights, open doors and perform a number of other tasks to help a person with various disabilities. The recipient could be ambulatory or in a wheelchair.

Key responsibilities of the puppy raiser include caring for and socializing the puppy under the direction of other puppy raisers and trainers. You will also be expected to attend and participate in training sessions at least weekly, but more training time is recommended. Service dogs in training have the same universal access awarded to fully trained assistance dogs, and over time you will be able to take your puppy wherever you go, including the mall, the movies, the theater or a concert, on public transportation, to work, or on an airplane. You will have the full support of the MS Service Dog Program during this process.

If you would like to participate in this or other volunteer projects related to the MS Service Dog Program, please contact Dr Ellen Lathi,

The last speaker, Dr.Wade was very interesting b/c not only is he a MS neurologist but he is a person living w/ MS!  He spoke both about his personal and professional experiences and it was wonderful to hear his perspective.

I love having the opportunity to hear neurologists speak about MS.  Hearing from 3 in one day is great.  You hear so much useful information and it is empowering.  I'm happy to have learned even more about new MS treatments so that when I'm ready I'll be able to make an education decision along with my neurologist for what is best for me.

After the program I had to go have my routine MRI which took way longer than expected.  They were running late so I had to wait an hour before going in.  I'll tell you about my MRI once I know the results!

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