Improving the lives of those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) is the aim of a new clinical trial.
Funded through a grant from MS Research Australia, Monash University researcher Louise Kurczycki from the Eastern Health Clinical School conducted the trial to determine better ways of managing the symptoms associated with MS.
More than 23,000 Australians are diagnosed with MS, a life-long chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. Diagnosis typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 40, with three-quarters of those diagnosed being female.
The $110,000 grant enabled Ms Kurczycki, as part of the Eastern Health Monash-Box Hill Hospital MS research team, to develop a screening tool that improves the identification of bladder and bowel symptoms in MS.
Ms Kurczycki said the funding had allowed the trial of the screening tool to be conducted as well as investigating a nurse-led intervention to improve the management of symptoms associated with MS.
She said bladder and bowel symptoms commonly occurred in MS and could have profound effects on an individual’s quality of life and self esteem. “If left untreated, some urinary problems can have serious long term effects,” Ms Kurczycki said.
“Although research has highlighted the benefit in treating bladder and bowel problems, symptoms are often disregarded or tolerated by the individual and overlooked or poorly managed by health professionals.”
Monash University’s Eastern Health MS Service previously trialled a screening tool to determine the extent of such problems in 100 MS patients and found many had urinary and bowel problems, including incontinence, and had not informed their neurologist or MS nurse.
“The next stage of the project will identify whether treatment initiated by a continence nurse based at Eastern Health MS Service improves problems and reduces the burden and impact of bladder symptoms.
“Identifying continence issues is vital in MS to reduce the possibility of longer term bladder and bowel dysfunction, and contribute to improved quality of life for people with MS,” Ms Kurczycki said.
People on the trial that are identified as having bladder issues will be offered either immediate treatment or individualised information to help deal with the specific problem.