Great Kills researcher heeds the call for better treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Monday, July 14, 2003
By Cara S. Liander
Staten Island Advance
Upon hearing the title registered nurse, the majority might think of people in scrubs filling tubes of blood for the lab. Not many people know the importance of research nurses, until someone talks about the advances a nurse has made in medical research that eventually leads to cures for diseases.
Great Kills resident Dr. Cira J. Fraser, a registered nurse, has heeded
the call to become a research nurse for finding new and improved ways to
treat Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease where antibodies in the body attack cells in the brain and spinal chord. Approximately 400,000 people in the United States suffer from MS, and there are 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Of those who are living with the disease, over 75 percent are women and 25 percent are men.
"Studies have shown that Multiple Sclerosis affects areas away from the equator having the environmental aspect, and people with Herpes 6 (Epstein Bar) also have Multiple Sclerosis in common," said Dr. Fraser. "Having Herpes 6 doesn't mean you have Multiple Sclerosis, and right now it's just a coincidence."
Dr. Fraser explained that symptoms of MS can look like the effects of a stroke, including weakness on one side and numbness in hands and feet. The only difference between a stroke and MS is the MRI results. An MS patient will have plaques, which are damaged tissue, showing in their brain. A stroke victim's brain will be clear in an MRI result.
With the research and teaching methods Dr. Fraser has developed, she is able to incorporate both into many of her abstracts, written hypotheses, that have gained recognition in the nursing field all around the world.
Self-efficacy is the main focus of any MS patient who has injectable medication, according to Dr. Fraser. Self-efficacy is the belief in the ability to organize and implement a course of action necessary to accomplish a task.
"Someone may have high self-efficacy for using a computer, but may have low self-efficacy for injecting their own medication," explained Dr. Fraser.
A registered nurse since 1969 and currently a professor at the University of Monmouth, Monmouth, N.J, Dr. Fraser is also part of an international committee that designs a test for nurses who want to specialize in MS. "Practice enhances teaching, and research enhances practice," she commented.
The international scholar graduated from St. Vincent's Medical School, West Brighton, where her daughter will be attending in the fall.
Before her work on MS, Dr. Fraser started her self-efficacy research with stroke patients. She has written an abstract entitled, "The Experience of Transition for a Daughter Caregiver of a Stroke Survivor," which describes a case study of a woman who takes charge of her mother and how professionals can assist. Dr. Fraser highlights the themes of changing relationships, enduring emotional turbulence, and struggling to hang onto hope.
Although a stroke survivor and a patient with MS have similar symptoms, there is no coincidence that the effects on the family are the same. Dr. Fraser built on her research, and started with her MS research that dealt with medications of individuals, and therapies in individuals with progressive forms of the disease. There are four different types of medications now available to MS patients.
Doctors and nurses are finding ways to help with self-efficacy issues in patients. "We set realistic expectations by talking with the patients, and explain the positive effects of drugs that will better and prevent relapses," Dr. Fraser said. "We also give lots of positive feedback to the patients, and have social support, which can enhance ability to talk with their own doctors to make a decision on which medication to use."
There are improved methods to help patients with self-efficacy and the
denial period of having the disease. Education, earlier diagnosis, and
auto needle injectors are some of the factors that add up to make things
a little easier in coping with MS, said Dr. Fraser.
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