Can Do MS, formerly The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, is an innovative provider of lifestyle empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners. A national nonprofit organization, we empower people to move beyond their MS by giving them the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, actively co-manage their disease and live their best lives.
About Can Do MS
Can Do MS has helped thousands of people living with MS transform challenges into possibilities in health and life. In 2011 we will provide programs and services to more than 8,000 people.
Who Should Attend Our Lifestyle Programs?
MS usually affects young adults between the ages of 20 and 50. Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with the disease. MS is found most frequently among people in colder climates; for example, north of the 40th parallel in America. Studies strongly suggest that where a person was born and lived during his or her first fifteen years of life influences the likelihood of developing MS.
CAN DO® Program - The flagship CAN DO Program is an intensive educational program that teaches people with MS and their support partners how to take charge of their lives within the context of their MS. The four-day program goes well beyond traditional health and wellness programs by using a comprehensive spectrum of assessments, active-learning formats and goal-setting to actively empower people with MS and their support partners to live their best lives. Spouses, family members or friends are encouraged to attend the CAN DO Program with a person with MS. Special sessions are devoted to this group of support partners, addressing their needs, goals, concerns and challenges.
TAKE CHARGE™ Program — Coming in 2013! Our four-day CAN DO Program has been in existence since our founding in 1984. In today’s busy world, people with MS and their support partners sometimes ask for a similar experience in a shorter span of time. This two-day program is a new program that will incorporate education, experiential activities and interaction with professional staff as well as others with MS over a weekend.
JUMPSTART® Program - An educational and interactive program in which you and your support partner will learn the knowledge, skills and tools to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and actively co-manage your MS. Each JUMPSTART Program is customized and covers topics ranging from how to deal with cognitive and fatigue issues to goal-setting, nutrition, exercise and maintaining emotional well-being.
Webinar Series - An informative and accessible program for people with MS and their support partners to see beyond their MS by gaining the knowledge and tools to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, actively co-manage their MS and live their best lives. This program is offered monthly and at no charge to participants.
We also work collaboratively with other MS organization like the National MS Society to provide our current program offerings and create new program offerings.
Can Do MS has a network of more than 100 health care professionals from around the U.S. and Canada, including exercise physiologists, nutritionists, neurologists, physical and occupational therapists, physicians, psychologists, speech/language pathologists, registered nurses and other health care specialists. Our health care professionals are dedicated to teaching people with MS and their support partners how to take control of their lives and health by focusing on what they can do and live their best lives.
Our Programs Consultants
Our approach is rooted in a uniquely empowering whole person, whole health, whole community philosophy to maximizing health and living with MS. Can Do MS offers a range of individualized experiential learning formats, including multi-day workshops, weekend seminars, online resources and peer support programs. We compassionately equip individuals with the expanded knowledge, skills, awareness and confidence to become active co-managers of their health. We enhance and complement traditional models of care by focusing on the physical, interpersonal, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of living with MS.
Lifestyle empowerment is about learning the individualized skills and mindset to take active charge of your health and your life with MS. It’s about helping you regain a sense of control, dignity and freedom by teaching you and your support partner how to overcome your unique challenges and create personalized lifestyle strategies help that help you live your best life with MS.
In 2010 Can Do MS earned Charity Navigator’s 4 Star rating, the highest rating possible, for the third consecutive year. This achievement recognizes our ability to efficiently manage and grow our finances. It reflects the success we have achieved by ensuring that more than 80 percent of all funds are used to directly benefit people living with MS. We are in the top 18 percent of over 5,000 nonprofits evaluated by Charity Navigator. We are also members of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).
Our Commitment to Nonprofit Best Practices
We work collaboratively with many MS care providers and organizations around the U.S. and Canada to provide our lifestyle empowerment programs where they’re most requested and needed. In 2009, Can Do MS formed a collaborative partnership with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to align resources and more effectively improve the quality of life of people with MS and their support partners. We are also members of the Consortium of MS Centers and MS Coalition. The MS Coalition is an affiliation of independent MS organizations dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life for all those affected by MS.
Our Collaborative Partners
Can Do MS honors the legacy and beliefs of the organization’s founder, Jimmie Heuga, a pioneer in the MS care management field. We continue to embrace his positive can do philosophy and perspective, which complements the traditional medical model and standard of care. Since 1984, we’ve been at the forefront of promoting the culture and belief that everyone living with MS has the power to live full lives.
Our Founder Jimmie Heuga
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system in which the insulating, protective covering (myelin sheath) surrounding the nerves, and the nerve itself, is destroyed or damaged, resulting in interference with the brain's signals to various parts of the body. The disease typically attacks multiple areas within the central nervous system, causing plaques or scar tissue formation, hence the name multiple sclerosis.
A person's genetic heritage, gender and environment contribute to susceptibility, resistance and pattern of the course of MS. MS is characterized by an abnormal immune response against the central nervous system. The autoimmune response attacks the myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers. This demyelination causes an interruption of nerve impulses and produces the symptoms of MS. In addition, there is significant evidence that demonstrates that MS affects the nerve (axon) causing damage to the nerve itself.
There are medications which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Beta interferons (1a and 1b), glatiramer acetate and natilizumab have all been approved by the FDA to treat relapsing forms of MS. Mitoxantrone has been approved for treatment of progressive MS or worsening, relapsing MS. While none of these medications are a cure for MS, they have greatly changed the management of MS.
Published research, supported by Can Do MS, demonstrated the beneficial effects of exercise for people with MS. A landmark study published in 1996 demonstrated physical and emotional health improvements for people with MS, using a regular exercise program. Other research examining health promotion programs, like those principles taught at Can Do MS programs, have shown improvements in health related quality of life and overall health promoting behaviors. Survey research has demonstrated that people with MS want more information on lifestyle management, such as exercise, nutrition and stress management.
Can Do MS is an educational organization that gives people living with MS the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and actively co-manage their MS. We encourage you to discuss any drug therapy or procedure with your health care professional.