The Role of the Registered Dietitian and Occupational Therapist in Improving Quality of Life in Those with Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Trinity Exhibit Hall
Lauren Rieger, RD, CDE , Medical Specialty Clinic, Red Deer Regional Hospital, Red Deer, AB, Canada
Stephanie Huff, MScOTę , Medical Specialty Clinic, Red Deer Regional Hospital, Red Deer, AB, Canada

The Central Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Clinic offers an integrated interdisciplinary approach to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) care in an outpatient setting. It aims to provide the necessary services in order to empower people affected by MS to achieve optimal levels of quality of life. The team of neurologists, nurses, registered dietitian, occupational therapist and social worker serve approximately 700 clients in Central Alberta living with MS, their family members, caregivers and other healthcare professionals.

The registered dietitian (RD) and occupational therapist (OT) provide specialized services for the Central Alberta MS Clinic. Along with guidance regarding general healthy eating the RD in the MS clinic setting provides education around fatigue management, appetite changes, weight control, supplementation and complementary medicine, bowel and bladder management, safe swallowing, and bone health. The OT provides suggestions and recommends devices in order to improve the clients’ functions with activities of daily living.

On an annual basis, the Central Alberta MS Clinic mails a client questionnaire to collect data on the current health concerns and severity of symptoms in their clients. This data provides insight into the unique needs and symptom presentation of individuals with MS and enables the interdisciplinary team to implement appropriate therapeutic strategies in symptom management. As per a random selection of 100 clients in the Central Alberta MS Clinic approximately 67% report fatigue as a concern. Together, the RD and OT focus on improving dietary patterns and energy conservation with a goal to improve fatigue. The RD provides information on menu planning, easy meal preparation and efficient grocery shopping techniques, along with aiding the client in meeting goals for proper blood sugar management, hydration, and weight control. The combined effort of the RD in assisting the client to consume a well balanced diet, along with OT guidance on healthy sleep techniques, assistive equipment, and technological strategies, this interdisciplinary team aims to improve the quality of life for MS clients with fatigue.

The goal of this retrospective review was to determine if the needs of the clients were met by collaborating with the RD and OT. MS clients seen by the RD and OT together regarding fatigue management indicated that through implementation of the combined strategies suggested by these healthcare providers their level of fatigue improved. Other areas of review were weight control, bowel management, supplementation and complementary medicine, swallowing, and general healthy eating. Random chart reviews were completed in each of these areas and results concluded that quality of life of MS clients improved with RD intervention.

This review demonstrates that registered dietitians in clinics similar to the Central Alberta MS Clinic can improve quality of life in MS clients and the united roles of the RD and OT can improve fatigue in MS clients.