Monday, March 24, 2008

University of Delaware's MS Assessment Clinic

Last week, 14 March, I had the opportunity to participate in an MS Assessment Clinic developed by the University of Delaware Physical Therapy department. This is the only clinic of its kind in the US, and was developed in 2002 by Ken Seaman, coordinator of clinic education in the physical therapy department. It was established to help people with MS evaluate the extent of their illness if they feel they have some functional loss and learn techniques and strategies for dealing with the symptoms. In 2007, UD was given the Friend of the MS Society award for their work with this clinic.

First- and second-year UD physical therapy graduate students work in the clinic beside professional physical and occupational therapists, and get hands-on experience. The UD PT department is also involved in research, so this is their opportunity to test drive some of their tools, techniques, and instruments.

Evaluation stations included vision, oxygen consumption, gait analysis, cognitive assessment, durable medical equipment, psychological counseling, nutrition, and occupational and physical therapy evaluations.

I took a “cognitive test” (that is a secret codeword for a math test) that really wore me out. It was three minutes of adding single digit numbers while remembering the previous number, and I was exhausted and my right leg became weak and tingly when I finished. That was the first time I was able to prove to a live person that mental work outs are more exhausting than physical ones (I wasn’t as wiped out after the ‘walk as fast as you can’ tests).

They are providing a valuable service to the MS community, and I am trying to incorporate their suggestions into my every day life. And I only had to pay for parking! I want to thank everyone from the UD PT crew – they were all so polite, friendly, patient, and fun. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I had planned to list their names, but realized that 1) I don’t have all of them and 2) I didn’t ask if I could publicize their names. But I will thank Dr. Cathy Ciolek. Cathy is the Education and Service Learning Coordinator and the Associate Director for the Neurologic and Older Adult Physical Therapy Clinic located within the University of Delaware. That's a mouthful for a wonderfully friendly and helpful coordinator of the program.

UD's MS Assessment Clinic offers six, free, clinics each year. Anyone who has been diagnosed with MS at least two years can participate. Call 302-831-2430 to sign up if you live near Newark, Delaware. The next dates are April 18 and May 9, 2008.

Click for more information about the University of Delaware Special PT clinics.

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