An Interdisciplinary Approach to Treating Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: The Role of Social Services

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Trinity Exhibit Hall
Sheilah H. Storch, LCSW , Social Services, Texas Neurology, PA, Dallas, TX


The role of medical social work has inherently taken place in an inpatient hospital setting. Providing comprehensive care in an outpatient setting now entails a broader approach to treating the individual with chronic illness as a whole person. Quality of life issues which include an initial diagnosis, work and family issues, financial constraints due MS medications and treatment, as well as the impact of symptoms and disability impairment, all play a role in addressing comprehensive MS care.


The purpose of this work is to address the importance of providing a continuum of care that includes an interdisciplinary team approach. The role of social work in an outpatient setting that treats PwMS (persons with MS) entails quality of life issues, and addressing the everyday concerns that stem from living with a chronic lifelong illness.


Our MS outpatient clinic provides an interdisciplinary approach that includes a neurologist, neuropsychologist, nurse, nutritionist, and social worker. Physical and occupational therapists are also readily utilized in an outpatient, as well as inpatient rehab setting. The role of social services entails providing resource options, coordinating services and referrals, providing counseling, assisting with advanced directives, and addressing work and family related concerns. These responsibilities are coordinated and communicated to the MS team for a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Results: Coordination of care facilitated by the social worker and the rest of the MS team will be demonstrated by successfully managing the PwMS over their lifetime of care.


Integrating a social worker into a MS interdisciplinary team is essential to address the multiple needs that accompany living with a chronic illness. PwMS require a case management approach to enhance quality of life and promote wellness, address disability and work concerns, cope with sustained physical and cognitive impairments, and assist with family, financial, psychological and spiritual issues. Currently, any MS Center of Excellence will warrant an interdisciplinary team approach to promote quality comprehensive patient care.