Stay Updated on COVID-19 and MS by Watching Our Ongoing Webinar Series
Recognizing the importance of providing the multiple sclerosis community with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible on the coronavirus and its impact on MS, MSAA quickly organized and created an ongoing live webinar series titled, “What You Need to Know About COVID-19 and MS.”
Presented by MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer Barry Hendin, MD and the Chair of MSAA’s Healthcare Advisory Council Carrie Hersh, DO, MSc, this series provides a comprehensive understanding of the coronavirus and addresses many of the MS community’s most pressing concerns. Topics include risk of infection, maintaining disease-modifying therapies, actions to take if feeling unwell, and more. The series also provides supportive wellness strategies to help people cope with the physical and emotional stress resulting from this prolonged period of social isolation. In addition, an extended question and answer session is featured at the end of each program.
To date, MSAA has hosted and archived three webinars from this series, with the most recent program broadcasted on Monday, April 27, 2020. We invite you to watch this latest program as well as the other archived webinars from this series.
MSAA’s Helpline Offers Timely Information, Supportive Resources, and Needed Reassurance
During these anxious and uncertain times, MSAA would like to remind everyone that help is just a phone call or email away. The trained and experienced MSAA Client Services staff are here to answer your questions, offer helpful resources, and provide a sense of comfort and reassurance with issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on MS, as well as other MS topics.
With extended Helpline hours until 5:00 PM Pacific during this crisis, we invite you to call our toll-free number at (800) 532-7667, ext. 154 to find the information and resources you need to help with sudden financial emergencies, employment concerns, discontinued home-health assistance, and many other urgent needs. You can also connect with our Helpline staff through email, at MSQuestions@mymsaa.org; or send a chat question via mymsaa.org/chat.
Much-Needed Emotional and Physical Wellness Resources
Presenters during MSAA’s MS Awareness Month activities in March included (L-R): Mary Rensel, MD and Amy Sullivan, PsyD of the Cleveland Clinic; MS neurologist Annette Okai, MD; family therapist Cheryl Young, MAMFT; and physical therapist Brian Hutchinson, PT.
Now more than ever we could all benefit from some helpful wellness strategies to manage increased stress, remain physically active, and exercise while at home, bringing a much-needed sense of calm and balance back into our lives. Coincidently, MSAA had previously decided to focus its 2020 March MS Awareness Month campaign around the integration of physical and emotional wellness strategies to improve MS symptom management and overall quality of life.
With a timely amount of new information recorded and posted in March, we invite you to learn more about The Mind, Body, and MS Connection for supportive strategies you can easily incorporate into your new “norm” by visiting our MS Awareness Month webpage.
Made possible by the generous support of Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Genentech, this month-long initiative featured a series of live webinars, podcast recordings, Ask the Expert chats, and more by leading MS healthcare professionals discussing the importance of maintaining wellness in MS and overall quality-of-life management. Programs offered during the March campaign included:
- The Importance of Wellness Care in MS featuring Mary Rensel, MD and Amy Sullivan, PsyD of the Cleveland Clinic. These MS experts describe the mind-body connection in MS and discuss how to improve symptoms through diet, exercise, and stress reduction.
- Keeping it Simple: Everyday Mindfulness for People Living with MS with marriage and family therapist Cheryl Young, MAMFT of the Louisville Mindfulness Center. During this webinar, Ms. Young explores how learning Mindfulness techniques can help you better manage life’s stressors, while decreasing anxiety, irritability, and fear.
- A Little is a Lot When Exercising with MS with guest presenter physical therapist Brian Hutchinson, PT of the MS Achievement Center. In this podcast, Mr. Hutchinson discusses how physical activity can improve your body and your mind, and offers easy and effective exercise options for everyone living with MS.
- Better Symptom Management through Wellness once again features MS experts Mary Rensel, MD and Amy Sullivan, PsyD of the Cleveland Clinic. Together, they provide helpful strategies to improve MS care through nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and overall healthy living.
Ask the Expert Chat Program
- Wellness and Healthy Living with MS features MS neurologist Annette Okai, MD of the Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center of Dallas at Baylor University Medical Center.
In addition to these informative programs, MSAA also spotlighted wellness and MS care through numerous helpful articles featured on our award-winning blog MS Conversations. We invite you to read and follow these posts at blog.mymsaa.org.
MSAA would like to thank our expert presenters who provided a wealth of extremely helpful information and resources on these important topics. We would also like to thank all those who participated in the programs, as well as supporters Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Genentech.
Consider Applying Now for MRI Funding Assistance
As you may have experienced over the past few months, most physicians and MRI imaging centers have cancelled their in-person appointments due to the necessary mitigation efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, MSAA anticipates a surge in requests for MRI assistance this summer if mitigation efforts are successful and people can safely return to their neurologist’s office for much-needed follow-up care that has been delayed for months.
If you and your doctor feel you might need an upcoming brain or c-spine to evaluate any recent changes in your MS condition, please consider applying now to the MRI Access Fund and get ahead of the expected high volume of requests. Through the generous support of Biogen and Sanofi Genzyme, the MSAA MRI Access Fund assists with the payments of brain and c-spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that need to be performed for qualified individuals who have no medical insurance or cannot afford their insurance costs; they must also require the exam to help determine a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or evaluate current MS disease progression.
The program also provides payment for past MRIs of the brain and c-spine for qualified candidates, providing the MRI(s) have a date of service from July 1, 2019 to present. To learn more and apply, please visit the MRI Access Fund or call (800) 532-7667, ext. 120.