Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: After watching her balance deteriorate for a decade, a sister’s desire for a second opinion for persistent health issues led to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), effective treatment and a new life.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and according to a scientific study conducted in the United Arab Emirates, the incidence of multiple sclerosis is increasing in the region.
Ameena lived with undiagnosed multiple sclerosis for many years, worked as a school administrator, and struggled with organizational and clerical duties. Having already endured years of loss of balance requiring her to use a cane to walk, she was almost resigned to her condition.
“It was about 10 years ago when I first observed changes in my daily movements. I tried to distract myself and focus on my work as a school administrator; as long as I was busy, it was fine,” she explains.
It got to a point where she was unable to walk even 200 meters without help or by asking her colleagues for help. Even after seeking medical assistance, nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t until her sister recommended she visit the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner, that she took her condition more seriously.
Dr. Anu Jacob, Director of Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Neurology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explains:
“It was no surprise to me that Ameena was not diagnosed, despite 10 years of symptoms. Not everyone with MS will have the typical symptoms. Some will experience many seemingly unrelated health issues and weird that confuse doctors. It is important to note that not all patients will be able to explain their symptoms to doctors. Some patients will simply ignore the symptoms or not seek help; they just deal with their difficulties But a careful history and attention to detail led us to the conclusion that she might have MS, primarily in the spinal cord,” he says.
There are two stages of the disease, namely relapsing and progressive. The relapse phase lasts for many years and offers effective treatment options, but in the progressive stage, the patient’s condition, especially mobility, gradually deteriorates and becomes more difficult to treat.
“Ameena’s long history of symptoms and her gradual deterioration made multiple sclerosis more likely, but I thought it was important, especially with the unclear history, that we offered her our best treatments,” he adds.
Convincing Ameena to change her treatment took some effort, but a caveat from the doctor saying, “You can refuse the (new) treatment and expect the wheelchair to be your best friend, or commit to it and, if you’re lucky, start running,” persuaded her to start the new treatment. “I told the doctor, I don’t want to run, but I want to fly!” she laughed.
Determined to make it work, and to make her dream of visiting Expo 2020 Dubai and walking through all the pavilions a reality, Ameena embarked on her new regimen. She is proud to say that she realized her dream: “It was something else, to be able to walk without any support, any help. This was all made possible by the caring staff at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,” she says.
Dr. Anu Jacob says in conclusion: “Ameena’s case is not an exception, we regularly see patients who have a late diagnosis of MS. People need to be aware of the possibility of MS. We must also believe that multiple sclerosis is treatable and not a terminal disease.
But he warns: “Sometimes the opposite happens! Patients who don’t have MS are labeled as having MS and given the wrong drugs. It is important to listen carefully to patients, sift through the very many symptoms and consider carefully before drawing a conclusion. Our patients deserve personalized treatment.
“It is possible to live a normal or near-normal life with MS. I feel happiest when my MS patients tell me that they almost forgot about their MS until the hospital reminded them of their appointment with me! »
The multiple sclerosis program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Neurological Institute takes a patient-first approach and is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the region. The team’s mission is to work with each patient and their family to ensure an accurate and timely diagnosis. A state-of-the-art treatment plan and long-term management support is provided to each patient.
For more information on MS, visit https://multiplesclerosis.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae/
To book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Patient Portal app.
About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala Health, is a multi-specialty hospital located on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unprecedented extension of the US-based Cleveland Clinic model of care, specifically designed to meet a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the population of Abu Dhabi.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following institutes: Cardiology, Vascular and Thoracic, Neurological, Digestive, Ocular, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesiology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, imaging, quality and patient safety, and clinical and nursing care. In total, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s facilities combine state-of-the-art equipment with world-class standards of service. The hospital is a 394-bed facility (expandable to 490), with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-run medical facility served by certified North American/European physicians (or equivalent). The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers patients in the region direct access to the best healthcare providers in the world and the Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering some medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the campus of Tawam Hospital in Al Ain.
Visit us at www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae
About Mubadala Health
Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Founded in 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Center (ICLDC), Amana Healthcare, National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Capital Health Screening Center (CHSC), Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Center (ADTC), Danat Al Emarat, HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, HealthPlus Family Clinics, HealthPlus Fertility, HealthPlus Women’s Health Center, Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi, and a stake in Al Meswak Dental Clinics Group. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health is setting a new benchmark for the UAE and the regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive put patients first in its continuum of care. Innovation, research and education are the fundamental pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the development of a sustainable health sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.
Mubadala Health is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn with the handle: @mubadalahealth.
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