"The diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis have changed dramatically
in the last decade," said neurologist Peter Riskind, MD, PhD, medical director
of the UMass Memorial Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center, a comprehensive,
multidisciplinary clinic that is affiliated with the National Multiple Sclerosis
Society. "It has become a highly specialized field, and our center offers a
depth of expertise."
This expertise begins with a thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis. "A
diagnosis of MS is not as obvious as it might seem," Dr. Riskind explained.
"There are diseases like lupus that can mimic it. We are specialists in the
differential diagnosis of MS, and we pay careful attention to getting it
Treatment options are equally complex and comprehensive. Dr. Riskind noted
that an array of new medications - and combinations of medications - is
available today to optimize the management of MS. "We have a number of options,
including some intravenous drugs introduced just a few years ago and some new
oral drugs becoming available this year," he said. "In addition, the center is
heavily involved in clinical research, giving patients access to novel
treatments that are not available elsewhere."
The center's specialized resources for MS symptom management are extensive.
These include psychological evaluation and counseling to help manage depression
and anxiety that are common in patients with MS, a neuro-urologist who addresses
the bladder problems that MS patients with limited mobility often experience,
and spasticity management by intrathecal baclofen therapy and botulinium toxin
In addition, the center provides evaluation for rehabilitative services
including braces, wheelchairs and other assistive devices, and physical,
occupational and speech therapy. A monthly support group is also available to MS
patients and their families.
Dr. Riskind and his team also provide evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of
other immunological conditions such as lupus, sarcoidosis, vasculitis and
neuro-HIV infection. "These diseases can mimic MS and require similar
expertise," he said.
"We pay a lot of attention to our patients," Dr. Riskind said, adding that
the average follow-up appointment is 40 minutes.