Program Notes: MSAA’s COVID-19 Hub Keeps You Informed and Updated
By Peter Damiri
Launched soon after the start of the pandemic in 2020, MSAA’s dedicated website hub, The Coronavirus and MS, offers a wealth of free, educational tools and resources on COVID-19 and its impact on the MS community.
The site’s most comprehensive resource is the COVID-19 and MS Pathfinder tool. Developed in partnership with Wondros and updated regularly, this unique navigation tool allows for quick, easy access to the latest medical reports and findings addressing emerging news on:
- Vaccines and treatments
- COVID’s impact on MS and disease-modifying therapies
- Ways to stay safe
- And more
In addition to this helpful tool, visitors to the website hub will find supportive resources and our growing library of on-demand COVID-19 and MS webinars. In fact, the ninth edition of our ongoing webinar series, “What You Need to Know About COVID-19 and MS,” is taking place on Monday, April 26, 2021, from 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Eastern Time. People may sign up prior to that day and time to attend the live webinar, or view the archived video of the webinar after the event. To register for or view this latest webinar and access the MS Pathfinder tool along with additional resources, please visit mymsaa.org/covid.
Digital Educational Programs and New Guide Now Available
In addition to the upcoming COVID-19 and MS program, MSAA has an active schedule of live webinars planned for the spring and early summer. Upcoming digital programs include a series of Spanish-language presentations on MS management, a pair of webinars exploring the African American MS experience, and a host of online discussions addressing rural healthcare access and resources.
You can register for these free, live programs by visiting our calendar of events at mymsaa.org/calendar. Also, please know that previous webinars broadcasted during the winter on topics such as how parents can discuss MS with their children, being newly diagnosed with MS, navigating COVID-19 as a person of color, and more, are now available on the MSi video webpage at mymsaa.org/videos
Additionally, MSAA has just launched the first of several planned interactive, digital educational guides designed to complement many of our recent webinars. These guides include facts, activities, resources, and more on special subject areas related to MS. Debuting in April, our first digital guide, MS on Your Mind: A Closer Look at Brain Health is a hands-on interactive tool that breaks down the complexities of brain health in MS in an easy-to-read and understandable format.
As you journey through the guide, descriptive information and illustrations will help explain the impact DMTs have on overall brain health, the role of brain atrophy and brain-volume loss on the disease course, the use of MRI in measuring brain health, and more. We invite you to explore this new guide and look for additional topics coming online soon by visiting mymsaa.org/brainhealth
Spring Forward, Cool Ahead!
As we welcome the start of spring and look forward to nicer weather, this is a perfect time to remind our clients about MSAA’s year-round Cooling Distribution Program. The MSAA Cooling Program offers a variety of free ice-pack vests and accessories to help lessen the negative effects of heat on people living with MS. Vests can be worn under or over clothing and often provide several hours of temporary cooling relief, allowing people to better manage daily life activities, as noted below by MSAA client member, A.V. from New York.
“The cooling vest and scarf are my lifesavers! I put them on every time I go out on a hot day and it allows me to do usual things like go shopping or go for a walk without feeling completely exhausted from overheating. Thank you!”
MSAA greatly appreciates this lovely note and the opportunity to offer free cooling vests and accessories to the MS community. Additionally, MSAA provides free durable medical items including grab bars, shower chairs, walkers, exercise peddlers, and more to qualified applicants through our Equipment Distribution Program. As you may have previously read, MSAA continues to offer a financial hardship waiver to the cooling and equipment programs for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are in need of free cooling or equipment items, please consider applying to these programs on the MSAA website, mymsaa.org, or by calling our Helpline at (800) 532-7667, ext. 154.
Resources Available on Improving Mental Health and Wellness
In addition to The Motivator cover story exploring the concept of Purpose in Life, MSAA also hosted a webinar on the topic of PIL with Dr. Adam Kaplin, along with other digital educational programs addressing our MS Awareness Month theme – Improving Mental Health and Wellness.
Now archived on our website for on-demand viewing, Dr. Kaplin’s webinar “Finding Purpose in Life” provides a comprehensive look into the origins of PIL and discusses key study findings, which demonstrate a correlation between having meaning in life and achieving better health outcomes. The live webinar was very well attended and many viewers, including L.S. from Maryland, commented afterward on the powerful connection they felt toward the subject matter coupled with the ongoing strains of living through the pandemic.
“A seminar with Dr. Kaplin was just what I needed! These past months of life with Covid have been very difficult, causing increased depression, less activity, worsening of MS symptoms, and resulting fear. I plan to think more about my Purpose in Life and apply it to life after this pandemic.”
MSAA also enlisted the support of clinical health psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyD, ABPP to host a webinar on “Managing Depression and Anxiety in MS” and record a podcast episode on “Caring for the Care Partner.” Additional topics covered during the campaign included helpful strategies to address the importance of sleep, staying connected, diet and exercise, and self-care by top MS neurologists Annette Okai, MD and Mitzi Joi Williams, MD; along with dedicated blog posts, supportive resources, and more.
If you were unable to connect with MSAA during these scheduled programs, or would like to access the information presented, please visit our dedicated MS Awareness Month webpage at mymsaa.org/awarenessmonth.