Management of multiple sclerosis in adolescents – current treatment options and related adherence issues
Jean K Mah1, Jennifer E Thannhauser2
1Division of Neurology, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 2Division of Applied Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Abstract: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system that is increasingly recognized in children and adolescents. This realization comes with additional concerns about existing therapeutic options and the impact of the disease on health-related outcomes of adolescents with MS. This five-part review provides an update on management strategies relevant to the pediatric MS population. The first section gives an overview on the epidemiology and natural history of early onset MS. The second section outlines currently available MS treatments, including medications during acute relapses and long-term immunomodulatory therapies. The third section highlights adherence issues pertaining to MS, including the challenges uniquely faced by adolescents. The fourth section provides a summary of research into quality of life and psychosocial consequences of pediatric onset MS. Attention is drawn to the grief experience of affected adolescents and the importance of peer relationships. Finally, the family resilience framework is presented as a conceptual model to facilitate optimal adaptation of adolescents with MS. Healthcare professionals can promote resilience and treatment adherence by ensuring that these individuals and their families are sufficiently informed about available MS treatments, providing instrumental support for managing potential medication side effects, and addressing age-appropriate developmental needs.
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, disease-modifying therapies, adolescents, treatment adherence
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