Headed by Chris Power, MD, and Brad Kerr, PhD, the University of Alberta’s dedicated MS Centre demonstrates what can be achieved when top experts from science and medicine unite within an academic centre. “We are stronger together,” Power says. “Bringing different skills to bear on the same problem will ultimately help us figure out MS.”
The UAlberta MS Centre
- educates medical professionals in all aspects of the disease
- expands collaboration for educators, researchers and students from diverse fields
- develops a new generation of MS health-care professionals and researchers
- houses 20-plus experts in research and clinical care
An Unpredictable Burden
Nothing easily identifies Deb Vollrath as someone living with multiple sclerosis. “I look fine,” she says. “But I’m not.” The changeable nature of her symptoms is one of her biggest frustrations with the disease. “I can feel great one day and can’t get out of bed the next.”
In early 2008, Vollrath, then a pharmaceutical rep, was in Toronto for work when she was struck by an extreme headache. More worrying was the fact that it was accompanied by dizziness and vision loss. She was diagnosed with a migraine, but back in Alberta a few days later, she could barely get out of bed. She went to the University of Alberta Hospital emergency department, where MS Centre co-director Dr. Christopher Power was on duty. He suspected multiple sclerosis and began the process of excluding other illnesses.
Before the end of the year, Vollrath had stopped work. “There were changes in how I could do my job — memory loss, word-finding issues — I was always tired.” Then she suffered a second attack, which caused temporary blindness in one eye. Readmitted to the UAlberta Hospital, she was diagnosed with MS.
Vollrath is now on long-term disability. And the disease interrupts her family life, too — she and her husband Jason are the busy parents of two young children. “It’s frustrating for all of us to plan activities and then have to cancel, depending on how I’m doing.” Keeping her spirits up is another battle. “MS is chronic and it can really get you down. You have to stay positive.”
The Impact of Your Donation
Deb Vollrath is one of 100,000 Canadians with multiple sclerosis, 14,000 of them in Alberta, which has one of the highest per capita rates of MS. The cure for this disease lies in research, and the multidisciplinary team at the UAlberta MS Centre is committed to attacking the problem from all angles, carrying out the research and finding a cure within the next 10 years.
How to Help
Help MS patients lead better lives today, and invest in a cure. Your support pays researchers’ salaries, buys equipment and funds further study into multiple sclerosis. It creates the conditions for researchers at the UAlberta MS Centre to gain a better understanding of the causes, impacts and treatments of the disease, and how to ultimately prevent and cure multiple sclerosis.