Center provides support for brain disorders

By By Dan Treasure, Staff Writer

By Dan Treasure, Staff Writer

Families and patients suffering from neurological disorders can now get help at the U’s new Brain Health Learning Center, which provides information and one-on-one counseling for patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

University Health Care celebrated the opening of the center, located at the Imaging and Neurosciences Center in Research Park, on Friday.

The Brain Health Learning Center is designed to be a centralized location where patients and their families can come and talk with an expert about what to do after the diagnosis of a brain disorder. The center includes computers and a full library with literature and audio-visual learning materials for MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Within the foyer is an office designated for each neurological disorder staffed with volunteers, doctors and experts to provide walk-in or scheduled consultations with patients and their families.

DeeDee Fox, who works with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, believes that no family should have to work through a neurological disorder like MS or Parkinson’s on its own.

“Most people only get 10 or 15 minutes with the doctor after diagnosis and that’s it,” Fox said. “We’re here to provide the support either through our library, or with one of our volunteers. It’s all free.”

Gordon Chelune, senior neuropsychologist and professor of neurology, said that in the Alzheimer’s office, the patients and families are not only being consulted on how to handle the disease, but that the center also provides three- to four-hour cognitive assessments for Alzheimer’s patients in cooperation with their personal physicians. Chelune described the process as “collaborative care.”

“They still have their physician (and) we gather further info then provide that to primary care,” he said.

Chelune said many physicians are also coming to the center for two- to three-hour seminars on Alzheimer’s.

Professor Stefan Pulst, chairman of the department of neurology and member of the U Brain Institute, said the center was originally focused primarily on Alzheimer’s, but they decided to expand it to offer care for MS and Parkinson’s.

“You have a lot of overlap between the two,” he said. “Patients love to talk to one another, which is why the center is also a place for coordination of support groups.”

Professor and department of neurology director Norman Foster said he wants patients and families to realize that this is a very personalized center.

“We give patients and their families an educational prescription…a personal diagnosis,” Foster said.

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