SEATTLE — The Pacific Northwest is believed to have one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world. That was the driving force behind Swedish’s MS Center, which provides MS patients with world-class care and leads innovative research.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Because symptoms vary from patient to patient, it can be difficult to treat.
“Essentially when somebody has MS attacks, it can slow or even halt the transmission of information between the brain and the body,” said Simon Gale, occupational therapist and leader of Swedish’s MS Adventure program.
With some patients, you might never know they have MS and others need to regularly use a wheelchair or other assistive device.
Swedish’s MS Center offers a variety of services for patients, including traditional neurology care with MS specialty physicians. The center also offers rehabilitation medicine, neuro-ophthalmology, vocational counseling, neuropsychology, rehabilitation psychology, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
“We really pride ourselves on having a broad scope of services at the MS Center,” Gale said. “We offer almost everything that somebody would want in healthcare delivery at our MS Center.”
The center’s Adventure Program provides an opportunity for patients to have fun. That’s something that’s important to the center’s founder Dr. James Bowen and central to the mission. Patients can go on adventures like skydiving, rock climbing and paddle boarding or take classes like jewelry-making and art.
“At a minimum, if people have fun, I think that’s a success unto itself.” Gale said.
MS Center patient John got to go on a skydiving adventure and was able to experience a sense of weightlessness in the air.
“I have to stand there with a telephoto lens trying to catch that split second when they first land where fear has transitioned to being thrilled,” Gale said.
Many of the MS Center’s programs are available for free because of generous donors through the Swedish Foundation. To learn more, visit the Swedish website.
Sponsored by Providence Swedish.