Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a challenging neurological disorder in which the immune system targets the specialized myelin covering of nerve fibers, causing abnormal alteration in neural communication. Patients with MS are debilitated and often have fatigue, seizures, paralysis, depression, and other serious symptoms. Dr. Kanika Sharma, of the University of Iowa, hopes to improve outcomes and reduce costs for patients with MS by gaining a better understanding of risk factors these patients face. To take this an important step further, Dr. Sharma and her team plan to develop a clinical web/mobile application based on this risk information, which will empower MS patients, caregivers, and clinicians to personalize their care and achieve greater outcomes at reduced cost.
What we Know:
Nearly 500,000 Americans are affected by MS, a disease for which there is currently no cure. Women, people from further northern and colder climates, and those with other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, are at a greater risk of developing MS. Certain groups of patients with MS are also at a greater risk of hospitalization and increased healthcare costs.
Improved Understanding and Hope for Treatment:
By studying the risk factors associated with worse outcomes and greater cost, Dr. Sharma hopes that doctors and patients may be able to work together to reduce or account for those risks during treatment. In other words, patients can be treated with the best treatment given their specific risk factors and additional risk factors can be managed. The development and validation of an easy-to-use app will allow patients and doctors to communicate and implement these risk-reduction methods quickly and easily, improving patients’ quality of life, outcomes, and healthcare costs.
Our Plan to Help:
The American Brain Foundation, with your help, will give Dr. Sharma the resources needed to make important new discoveries on the risk factors contributing to poor MS outcomes and high costs of care. The findings Dr. Sharma and her team generate will not only help her own research, but will aid treatment efforts around the world, helping doctors to improve outcomes and reduce cost for their patients. The app Dr. Sharma plans to develop will make this process simpler, easier, and faster for patients, caregivers and doctors.