Multiple Sclerosis Service
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the brain’s “wiring,” the long axons that connect brain cells together in the white matter of the brain and help them perform all the functions that allow us to move, feel, and think. MS is an autoimmune disease in which our immune system attacks the myelin covering of those axons, slowing transmission of nerve impulses, resulting in progressive brain injury. MS lesions or “plaques” may attack localized brain areas and cause specific symptoms like loss of vision, weakness or numbness, that usually improve over time, but increasingly may cause lasting deficits. Other forms of MS may be slowly progressive without attacks.
Since the early 1990s, medications have been available to help prevent attacks from occurring. Intravenous steroids can often speed recovery from MS attacks. Most of the preventive treatments have involved regular injections of medications like interferons or glatirimer (Copaxone), but new approaches with periodic infusions of immunomodulating drugs like mitoxantrone and natalizumab, and an oral agent (fingolimod) have recently been developed. Our MS program carefully tailors treatments to the individual needs of each patient.
The Multiple Sclerosis Program at UAMS is directed by Dr. Robert Lee Archer, who has been a frequent winner of the Neurology division of the Best Doctors in Arkansas poll performed by the Arkansas Times, and was recently featured on the cover of its Best Doctors edition. He is supported by Dr. Carolyn Mehaffey, Laura Bargainier, APN, Christy Melton, RN, and Amanda Hickman, PharmD. Together, they provide a multidisciplinary approach to address the complex needs of MS patients.