The EASE Program
It all started when…
Quality of life and Multiple Sclerosis can seem miles apart, especially to individuals whose MS has progressed significantly. Notwithstanding the amazing research and big-picture work of the National and Regional MS Foundations, there are challenges that individuals face---every day. As obstacles mount, individuals can face even further deterioration through isolation.
MS Forward is a not-for-profit wellness center for those with MS. In existence since 2001, it is owned and operated by Daryl and Pattie Kucera. Daryl ironically received the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis himself one month after its opening. MS Forward is the first medical exercise and wellness program for individuals with MS to be nationally recognized. Recent innovations at MS Forward include tele-health sessions for individuals with MS in distant communities.
MS Center at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine
MS Center/UNMC is the only multidisciplinary center accredited by the MS Society in the state of Nebraska and has been a member of the Consortium of MS Centers since 1998. In 2014, the Nebraska Medicine MS Clinic initiated a house call program known as MS at Home Access (MAHA). MAHA is designed to serve unmet needs, challenges and proactively address complications for individuals with significant disabilities. Kathi Healey, APRN, Ph.D, developed and led this program. To date this program has served over 45 individuals with significant disability that struggle with the challenges of the multiple aspects of MS and access to their communities and healthcare.
Creation of the New MS Community Day Program known as EASE
From the needs recognized in the MAHA program and the desire to tap the energies of the individuals served by this program, the idea of an MS Community Day Program was born. In the fall of 2017, a small group of highly motivated, strongly committed individuals from UNMC (led by Kathi Healey) and MSfoward (Daryl Kucera) met and developed a new initiative to address these needs. The pilot project of the new MS Community Day Program known as EASE was proposed and funded by the MS Foundation.
Structure of the MS Community Day Program (EASE)
The key legs of the framework are Exercise, Advocacy, Socialization and Education. Six individuals with MS—known as the first six—are participating in this pilot. The First Six will be primary in the development and direction of EASE. A basic principle of MAHA and MSforward is that nothing will be decided without the input from those with disabilities, in this pilot program, it’s these First Six.
The focus of each exercise session is to appeal to the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of our members.
Unique to this pilot program is the requested dynamic input from the First Six regarding
direction, vision and future of this program. The First Six will also identify and pursue additional
funding sources to ensure financial sustainability and growth of the program. These activities
are expected to increase an individual’s sense of purpose, community awareness and promote
relationships with policy makers.
A key improvement to quality of life for an individual who has been homebound is positive,
Active socialization—especially with others who can readily identify with your challenges with
compassion and humor. Expected outcomes are strengthened personal relations leading to
Improved quality of life and taking time to have fun.
Education regarding prevention of complications associated with a disability will be a priority.
Education will run the gamut from MS symptom management, nutrition, finance and insurance
Information, resources in the community, ID technology advancements and whatever else the
First Six identify. This is expected to promote self-efficacy and empower individuals to promote
Wellness, decrease preventable complications and healthcare utilization.