It affects the central nervous system causing a wide range of symptoms, including cognitive, visual and language disorders. For this reason, multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that is still scary, but certainly less than in the past, thanks to the various therapeutic possibilities that allow patients in most cases to avoid the most serious consequences in terms of disability.
“Only in recent years have we seen it enter clinical practice many new drugs that have represented a real revolution for this pathology which twenty years ago was being treated with far fewer therapeutic options. ” Luigi Lavorgna, neurologist at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of the First Neurological Clinic at the Polyclinic of Naples, in an interview published on the Aleati per la Salute website, the new portal dedicated to medical-scientific information created by Novartis, underlines the importance of the new therapies with which this chronic, complex and unpredictable pathology is managed. about 2.5-3 million people in the world, of which 600 thousand in Europe and about 122 thousand in Italy, according to data from the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association (Aism).
The turning point in the history of the disease, according to Lavorgna, dates back to the advent of the “first new generation therapies” which, together with many other oral and infusional active ingredients, allow the progression of this disease to be controlled very effectively. “Today, therapy is increasingly customizable – Lavorgna explains – The goal is to identify the most suitable drug for each patient and for the specific phase of the disease in which he is. “Of course there is still a minority slice of patients refractory to therapies, but the prospects bode well.
In this scenario, another turning point is that represented by the Covid-19 pandemic. As in other medical specialties, the need to continue clinical activity in a context of social distancing has led to an acceleration of digitization and an increasing involvement of telemedicine.
“After the initial and inevitable dismay, the use of digital tools proved to be effective and gave comforting results”, says Lavorgna, thinking back to the first months of the health emergency. Doing telemedicine in neurology, despite the difficulties, is not impossible: “60% of the physical examination can take place remotely, via webcam, albeit with the necessary precautions – specifies the neurologist – Apart from the evocation of reflexes, some tests related to sensitivity and vestibular tests, a neurological examination can be carried out at a distance “.
Both from a scientific point of view and from a daily clinical practice, the drive towards telemedicine and digitization of the patient journey is giving very encouraging results in the management of multiple sclerosis: “More and more doctors and patients are satisfied with these innovations – Lavorgna highlights – We think of the youngest, in particular: in the smartphone they have their life. For them, being able to manage their health from their mobile phones, through video consultations or dedicated apps, is only an advantage. Certainly living in the hospital remotely makes them feel less sick, which is fundamental for a disease that, like multiple sclerosis, arises at a young age, particularly between 20 and 40 years of age.
“In Italy we count on a national health system which, despite everything, is excellent. Moreover, the centers specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis are widespread throughout the territory”, continues Lavorgna.
For the expert, “in the face of the excellent results of these first telemedicine experiences, we expect to be able to continue on this path” even in the post-pandemic. “It is only a question of overcoming some cultural resistances that remain in a small part of the medical world and, perhaps, also in politics”, he concludes.
The specialist’s intervention is available on: https://www.alleatiperlasalute.it/salute-20/qual-e-il-percorso-che-oggi-compie-il-paziente-con-sclerosi-multipla.