Recently I was contacted by Kate Long. Kate is an Occupational Therapy student at Deakin University who has just completed a placement in Denmark working specifically in MS care.
Her blog gives a great insight into how Denmark, which has a significantly higher prevalence of MS compared to Australia, manages MS care.
I thought it would be appropriate to share Kate’s story. It highlights the international effort that is underway to care for and fight MS. This was reinforced this week when I received contact from the MS Club Kenya who are preparing for their first ever group meeting this weekend in Nairobi. The fact a small group in a developing nation such as Kenya have created an MS Club – which they hope to grow into a formal ‘society’ – goes to show that regardless of where we are in the world there is a combined effort to work towards a common goal and that is a world without MS.
I hope you enjoy Kate’s insights into Danish MS care. Thank you so much for sharing Kate.
DANISH MODEL OF MS CARE
I recently had an amazing opportunity to complete two weeks work experience at “Sclerosehospitalet” in Denmark. The hospital is unique as it designed specifically for people with Multiple Sclerosis. In Denmark the prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis is high, approximately 12,500 people in Denmark have MS (Scleroseforeningen [SF], 2013). There are two MS specific hospitals in Denmark. I was based in Ry, Jutland.
The hospital in Ry is surrounded by beautiful scenery; the hospital faces the river Gudenaa and has scenic views of the forest and hills.
The hospital provides expert individualised rehabilitation for people with MS. The hospital caters for people with a recent diagnosis and for people with advanced multiple sclerosis. For people with advanced MS, a home visit is always conducted prior to admission, if it is more suitable for a person to stay at home, “rehabilitation in the home” is offered. Admission to the hospital is completed via GP referral. There is no cost as the Danish government provides funding for the hospital. Each person at the hospital has a tailor made rehabilitation program. The duration of the program can be 2 or 4 weeks long, this is dependent on the person’s condition and their goals for rehabilitation.
a view from the Hospital across the river
Whilst I was at the hospital I had the opportunity to observe and participate in some of the various therapies. Hippotherapy was a something I knew little about. Hippotherapy is the use of horses for therapy; I learnt that the rhythmic patterns felt whilst riding horse back are similar to that of walking, activating and working the pelvic muscles. Hippotherapy also assists with balance and coordination training, strength and endurance, stretching and relaxing muscles with spasticity and postural training. The therapy also has psychological benefits. I was able to try hippotherapy myself; the horses took us on a scenic track through the forest.
Horse riding or Hippotherapy
I was also able to observe activities such as basket weaving and leather making. These activities are designed for hand function maintenance and training. Patients reported they enjoyed participating in activities as they learnt a new skill and also had a piece of art to take home from the hospital.
basket weaving classes
The hospital runs a range of education sessions including education about energy management, relaxation, urinary dysfunction, sensory issues and sexual intimacy.
They also offer a number of therapies including, physical therapy, hand function training and cognitive training. I participated in a number of cognitive training groups, in the sessions we completed a variety of exercises for the brain, the sessions were fun and involved lots of laughter however were also challenging.
Being a non-Danish speaker on occasions I communicated with patients through body language. I was amazed at how much information others and I were able to communicate and also how much I was able to pick up during patient interviews and therapy sessions.
I had the opportunity to interview patients about their experiences at the hospital. Patients stated they valued the expertise of the staff, found it beneficial learning from other patients and sharing their experiences, one person explained that all aspects of life were discussed at the hospital and this was a big difference to other facilities, discussions about emotion health, sexuality and intimacy were seen to be very valuable and rewarding for individuals.
the beautiful grounds of the hospital
I am extremely grateful for my experience at the Sclerosehospitalet. It has been an incredibly valuable learning experience; I would like to thank everybody at the Sclerosehospitalet for accommodating me. In particular I would like to thank the Ergotherapi department who have gone out of there way to make this a rewarding experience, the time and effort they have put into my experience has been amazing and I am very appreciative. It is an experience I will never forget.
Kate Long, is an Occupational Therapy student from Deakin University, Geelong . She completed a two week placement at Sclerosehospitalet an MS specific hospital in Denmark in November last year.
Scleroseforeningen. (2013). Statistik om sclerose. Retrieved from http://scleroseforeningen.dk/statistik-om-sclerose