12 posts from January, 2013

Coping with Changes in Physical Appearance

Posted January 24th, 2013 by

When you are diagnosed with a life-changing illness, your doctor may prepare you for how the disease will affect your physical functions.  But as our members point out, patients also need to be prepared for the changes in physical appearance they may experience.  For example, how do you deal with hair loss, facial swelling, weight gain, blotchy skin or other unexpected changes?  Or get comfortable with the use of new equipment such as leg braces, walkers or wheelchairs that may attract attention?  Most importantly, what can you do to still feel beautiful?

A cute hat can help to cover thinning hair or bald spots.  Image courtesy of Stock Free Images.

Here are some suggestions from members of our PatientsLikeMe Forum, where patients with different conditions come together to discuss universal issues:

  • Using attractive scarves or hats to cover thinning hair or bald spots
  • Experimenting with different cosmetics to see what works best
  • Treating yourself to a spa manicure and pedicure as a pick-me-up
  • Trying out different explanations for your new brace/walker/wheelchair when asked to see what feels right and what produces the most acceptable responses
  • Soaking in a scented Epsom salt bath to ease pain and relax
  • Consulting with a hair stylist about better styles for thinning hair
  • Using gentle, non-drying facial cleansers and lotions
  • Switching to an electric razor to improve ease and safety
  • Donating your hair to Locks of Love to put a feel-good spin on it

Have you discovered other tricks to help you deal with a changing appearance?  Join this ongoing discussion in our forum or share your experiences in the comments section.


New Efforts Underway to Improve Care for Veterans

Posted January 22nd, 2013 by

With financial support from UCB, the Department of Veterans Affairs and PatientsLikeMe will study patient-reported outcomes.

Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE), biopharmaceutical company UCB and health data-sharing website PatientsLikeMe announce a new study to better understand what factors improve health outcomes for veterans with epilepsy.  The ECoE has recently completed a pilot study focused on collecting and sharing real world, patient-reported data on seizure frequency and severity, treatment adherence, patient and physician dialogue and overall quality of life. The study is now open and available to all veterans living with epilepsy at www.poemstudy.org.

“This collaborative effort, with partners from government and private industry, provides an exciting opportunity to improve the outcomes of the thousands of veterans with epilepsy. Our work together may also deliver insights into how we can improve the care for anyone with epilepsy,” says study lead and ECoE’s John Hixson , M.D.

As part of their initial partnership to help epilepsy patients, which began in 2010, PatientsLikeMe and UCB conducted a study of members of the PatientsLikeMe epilepsy community that showed that people with epilepsy who joined PatientsLikeMe better understood their own seizures and improved adherence to their medications.1,2 The new study of veterans will integrate validated clinical outcome measures alongside the patient-reported benefits of the online PatientsLikeMe community. The community platform allows patients to update their physician on aspects of their epilepsy, such as changes in symptoms and medication side effects, and enables physicians to view this patient data prior to clinic visits. The goal is to provide a complementary support system that enhances clinic visits and improves patient outcomes.

UCB, a leader in epilepsy, is providing the funding for the study. “We are committed to improving the standard of care for people living with epilepsy. We believe that this collaboration will address some of the unique challenges faced by veterans impacted by epilepsy and will be a model for other providers of care,” says Patty Fritz , Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Operations at UCB.

According to the ECoE, approximately 5.6 million veterans visit VA Medical Centers each year, and approximately 66,000 of these veterans are diagnosed with seizures or epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder defined as two or more unprovoked seizures.3

Adds Jamie Heywood , co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe, “This is a great opportunity to validate our earlier findings, which revealed that epilepsy patients using our website reduced side effects, increased compliance and reduced ER visits. Our partnership further demonstrates how committed UCB and the VA are to advancing innovation in health care. Collaborations like this will build the foundation for a patient-centric future in medicine.”

References
1. Wicks, P., Keininger, D. L., Massagli, M. P., de la Loge, C., Brownstein, C., Isojarvi, J., & Heywood, J. (2011). Perceived benefits of sharing health data between people with epilepsy on an online platform. Epilepsy & Behavior.
2. De la Loge, C., Massagli, M., Wicks, P. PatientsLikeMe®, a data-sharing online community: benefits for patients with epilepsy. Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (April 9-16 2011), Honolulu, USA.
3. Epilepsy Foundation. About Epilepsy. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/. Accessed 9/13/12

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is the world’s leading online health data sharing platform. PatientsLikeMe® creates new knowledge by charting the real-world course of disease through the shared experiences of patients. While patients interact to help improve their outcomes, the data they provide helps researchers learn how these diseases act in the real world and accelerate the discovery of new, more effective treatments. [Follow company news on Twitter.com/PatientsLikeMe and https://blog.patientslikeme.com]

About ECoE
The VA has funded the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (http://www.epilepsy.va.gov/). The Centers of Excellence are charged with: (1) establishing a national system of care to all veterans with epilepsy, (2) educating veterans and others in their lives impacted by epilepsy about high quality epilepsy care, (3) providing health professional education and training in order to deliver the highest quality of standard of care to veterans with epilepsy, (4) utilizing national VA and other databases in order to inform providers and policy makers in Central Office about health care delivery and health policy decisions, (5) conducting state-of-the-art research about epilepsy, and (6) implementing an informatics backbone to meet the above objectives.

About UCB
UCB, Brussels, Belgium (www.ucb.com) is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With more than 8,500 people in about 40 countries, the company generated revenue of EUR 3.2 billion in 2011. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).