Nursing Care Plans for Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable progressive disease that affects the central nervous system. People with MS may need a comprehensive nursing care plan to manage their diagnosis.

A nursing care plan is a multifaceted approach that focuses on the whole person, recognizing current and future needs.

The goal of the plan is not necessarily to track the progression of the disease but to help people with MS adjust to the diagnosis, manage symptoms, deal with the mental burdens of a chronic illness, and maintain quality of life.

In multiple sclerosis nursing interventions, a nurse develops a care plan to address the specific needs of each person with MS. The nurse is a trusted person who can advocate for your needs. These needs can range from counseling to help in choosing the right medications to accessing mobility aids.

In this article, you will learn about different nursing care plans, how they are chosen, and what to expect.  

Nurse discusses care plan with person with multiple sclerosis

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Nursing Care Plans and Diagnosis

Nursing care plans for MS are written or verbal arrangements developed after discussions among healthcare providers, the person with MS, and the nurse or nurses. The goal of the plan is to provide patient-centered care that is accessible and efficient.

A nursing diagnosis is a process in which the nurse does an assessment of the person to judge the person's needs and response to their condition. The nursing care plan is then developed to meet these needs.

Plans for MS care focus on specific symptoms and situations and their effects on daily life.

Impaired Physical Mobility

When MS symptoms affect mobility, the nursing care plan focuses on activities to help maintain or restore mobility. For example, the nurse may help someone with MS learn to modify the way they dress themselves or navigate through the world.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of MS. Treatment for fatigue can be pharmacological, such as medications, or non-pharmacological, such as occupational therapy. The team of healthcare providers will assess the fatigue and determine the correct treatment plan.

Disturbed Sensory Perception (Visual)

MS can affect vision, causing temporary loss of sight, blurred vision, impaired depth perception. Steroid medications can help with an exacerbation (times when symptoms worsen) that affects the eyes. A nursing care plan might include rest for the eyes or recommend special eyeglasses.

Risk for Self-Care Deficit

Self-care deficit refers to the inability or reduced ability to perform daily activities such as cooking, eating, exercising, and bathing.

If these or other daily activities are altered or reduced by MS, then a nursing care plan will address these by providing extra support or working with the person to develop alternatives to maintain a self-care plan, such as having food delivered if cooking is no longer an option.

Risk for Ineffective Coping

Coping with a diagnosis of a chronic illness like MS is complex. A nurse can act as a counselor and also recommend specialists and resources to help people manage the diagnosis, the symptoms, and their effect on daily life activities.

Ineffective Family Coping

While the person with MS is personally impacted by the disease, family members also also affected. Family members may need to step in as caregivers or they may be in denial of the effects of the disease. Some family members may become overwhelmed by the diagnosis of a loved one and alienate them.

In a nursing care plan, the nurse will work not only with the patient but also the family to educate everyone on the disease and help them navigate the changing family dynamics.

Impaired Urinary Elimination

Bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency, frequency, hesitancy, or incontinence) is common in MS and can significantly impact quality of life. A nursing care plan will address the symptoms and provide ways to manage them. Management of symptoms may include education on using a catheter, medications, or training of the pelvic floor muscles.

Deficient Knowledge

A new diagnosis of MS comes with many questions about the disease and how it’s treated. A nurse can answer questions, provide guidance, and help decipher information that is found online. While the Internet can be a great resource, it is often overwhelming and sometimes misleading. The nurse can help you gain and access knowledge to help you manage life with MS.  

Risk for Caregiver Role Strain

Though treatment for MS has improved over the years and there are more resources to help people with MS than ever before, many people with MS still require support and care from a caregiver. These caregivers are often family or friends and the burden on them can be significant.

A nursing care plan can recognize and address when a caregiver is strained and offer resources to help relieve the strain and provide support to the caregiver.

Other

Other MS nursing care plans might address the risk for falls, financial difficulties, difficulty in maintaining a home, and feeling isolated.

Outlook

While there is no cure for MS, medications are available to slow progression of the disease. Most people with MS will experience short periods of worsening symptoms followed by long periods of little to no disease activity. Life expectancy may be shortened by a few years compared to people without MS.

Working with a team of healthcare providers to develop a nursing care plan for general management of the disease can help you adjust to life with MS and prepare for a future with the condition.

Summary

MS is an unpredictable disease that requires a multidisciplinary approach to care. A nursing care plan is patient-centered and focuses on individual needs with MS. These plans can be developed around certain symptoms such as fatigue or bladder issues or focus on the overall maintenance and improvement of quality of life.

A Word From Verywell

Living with an unpredictable disease like MS can feel overwhelming. Even so, it’s often hard to ask for help.

While you may feel like you can handle an initial diagnosis or minor symptoms on your own, you might be surprised at how much a nurse and a nursing care plan can help you deal with the day-to-day difficulties of living with a chronic illness.

Voicing your concerns and talking through your daily challenges with your healthcare provider or nurse can give insight and provide suggestions for coping mechanisms and resources that you otherwise might not have known about.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are common nursing interventions for people with multiple sclerosis?

    Common nursing interventions include educating patients and families, providing counseling to maintain hope and optimism, and assessing ways to manage symptoms.

  • What is the focus of nursing care for someone with multiple sclerosis?

    The focus of care is on maintaining independence and quality of life.

  • What is the nursing diagnosis for multiple sclerosis?

    The nursing diagnosis for MS establishes the focus of care. For example, if the diagnosis is deficient knowledge the nurse will work on educating the person with MS on the disease.

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