Summer 2006

UCSF Opens Pediatric MS Center

The UCSF Medical Center has recently opened a Regional Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center to address the needs of patients and their families. The pediatric MS center at UCSF is one of only six such clinics in the United States, all of which have opened recently under the sponsorship of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

At the pediatric MS center, patients and their families are able to see, in one sitting, clinicians who are pediatric specialists and MS specialists. "Children have historically been referred to an adult MS specialist, who may not know about the finer points of how the disease acts and how it is best treated in children," says Emmanuelle Waubant, M.D., Ph.D. "The families are left with a lot of questions and challenges."

Patients coming to the pediatric MS center are evaluated and treated by a team that includes a pediatric neurologist and a nurse practitioner, adult MS specialists, a social worker and a neuropsychologist. "Parents say it's a relief to be able to talk to all the specialists at once," Waubant says. "Usually they shuttle from one to the next and often get conflicting or disconnected stories."

Because of the subtle and varied nature of the disease, different members of the team may have different opinions about diagnosis or treatment even though they are seeing the same patient at the same time, Waubant says. The discussions that such perspectives produce can be good for patients, she says. "By having specialists interact directly with one another, they can benefit from each other's views and provide the best possible care for the patients."

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