Can Do MS 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.
The organization has helped thousands of people living with MS transform challenges into possibilities in health and life. We impact more than 10,000 people per year through our MS education, programs and website – www.mscando.org. In 2014, we hosted nine in-person programs in seven different cities throughout North America, which included two outdoor adaptive experiences. We also offered 14 online programs, which included Webinar Series, Ask the Can Do Team – online Q & A and Library Articles for people looking for more information on a wide range of MS topics. Overall, we impacted 11,500 people in 2014.
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 control 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.
TAKE CHARGE™ Program – The TAKE CHARGE Program is a two-day wellness weekend that provides an interactive and multi-disciplinary approach to MS care management. Participants and support partners learn the individualized skills and mindset to take charge of their health and life with MS in a small group setting.
JUMPSTART® Program – The JUMPSTART Program is an educational and interactive one-day program in which people with MS and their support partner gain the knowledge, skills and tools to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and actively co-manage their MS. Each JUMPSTART Program is customized to local MS community needs and can cover topics ranging from how to deal with cognitive and fatigue issues to goal-setting, nutrition, exercise and maintaining emotional well-being. Support partner sessions are included specifically to address their unique needs.
Webinar Series - Can Do MS’s monthly Webinar Series offers insight from MS experts representing different medical disciplines so that participants can gain additional knowledge relating to MS. Participants interact with our team of Programs Consultants, by asking questions to learn how to actively co-manage their MS from the comfort of their home.
Ask the Can Do Team - Can Do MS’s online Q & A gives people living with MS and their support partners an opportunity to connect with our Programs Consultants and ask questions on topics relating to MS. Archived on the Can Do MS website, www.mscando.org/AskCanDo, this online resource provides an excellent service for people looking for more information on a wide range of topics.
Can Do MS has a network of more than 65 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 Can Do MS Programs Consultants (MS experts) 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 to live their best lives.
Our approach is rooted in a uniquely empowering whole person, whole health, whole community philosophy to maximizing health and life with MS. Can Do MS offers a range of individualized, experiential program formats that 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. Spouses, family members or friends are strongly encouraged to attend all in-person programs with a person with MS. Special attention is devoted to this group of support partners, addressing their needs, goals, concerns and challenges.
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.
Can Do MS has consistently earned top three and four-star ratings since 2006 for its ability to efficiently manage and grow its finances from nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator. This achievement recognizes our commitment to fiscal responsibility, with more than 81 percent of all funds directed towards our programs. Click here to see Can Do MS’s current rating.
We collaborate with many MS care providers and organizations around North America to provide our lifestyle empowerment programs where they’re needed most. In 2009, Can Do MS formed a collaborative partnership with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to align resources and bring our programs to their chapters. We are also members of the Consortium of MS Centers and MS Coalition, an affiliation of independent MS organizations dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life for all those affected by MS.
Can Do MS honors the legacy and beliefs of the organization’s founder, Olympic medalist Jimmie Heuga, and 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.
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.