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Five Things People Should Know About the Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute at Shepherd Center

Upcoming Synovus Summer in the City event will help raise funds to support MS Institute's team-centered, comprehensive approach to treat MS.

Since 1991, the Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Institute at Shepherd Center has set itself apart from others in the country. With Medical Director Ben Thrower, M.D., at the helm, a dedicated team of physicians, advance practice providers, nurses, therapists, exercise special-ists, case managers, and researchers work to deliver cutting edge treatments to their patients, with the following goals in mind:

  • Diagnose the disease as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Educate the patient and their family on disease management and resources.
  • Partner with the patient and family in making treatment decisions that will have the best chance to minimize the impact of MS on their lives.
  • Provide a comprehensive and integrative treatment environment for the person with MS and their family.
  • Partner with other organizations that work with MS to share knowledge and resources.

The staff in the MS Institute strives to reach those goals in a multitude of ways.

Here are five things people should know about the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute.

1. We offer a holistic approach to MS care.

The MS Institute offers a sort of “one-stop shop-ping” for those with MS. Aside from clinical care, patients at the MS Institute can receive occupational, physical and speech therapy, get seated for the proper wheelchair, take an exercise class designed just for them and participate in support groups and field trips.

“Many MS Centers do something really well, like bench research or medical management,” Dr. Thrower says. “Our center offers one of the widest arrays of services available, from wellness to research.”

The Institute also offers state-of-the-art imaging, which helps doctors detect and track the disease – and it’s all offered in one place. Patients can schedule all of their appointments –imaging, a visit with the doctor, physical or occupational therapy – all in one day. This is especially convenient for those who travel long distances to receive care.

In 2012, Shepherd Center opened the Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Program. The program was the first in the nation to integrate all aspects of wellness – fitness, nutrition and education – into a single approach tailored specifically for people with MS. The program also has a research component with the goal of improving the function, health, wellness and quality of life in people with MS.

2. We work as a team.

No person – or staff member – is an island at the MS Institute. The staff communicates and coordinates care for each patient as a team. They are a dedicated group of specialists who only work with patients with MS. Each week, the staff of the MS Institute gets together for a team meeting to discuss any challenges they may be having with certain cases, as well as to share success stories.

“It’s a good sounding board,” says Shane White, MBA, director of medical imaging at Shepherd Center. “It keeps everyone on the team informed of what’s happening inthe Institute.”

3. We provide individualized care.

While the staff works as a team, they also work to provide each patient with a customized plan that fits him or her. As with many diseases, an approach that works with one patient may not work for the next.

“We identify what each patient needs and help them reach their goals,” Shane says. “And those goals vary from patient to patient. We try to meet them where they are.”

4. We depend on the generosity of others.

One of the reasons that the MS Institute can offer the full range of services it does is because of contributions from individuals, foundations and businesses. From funding wellness positions to making sure that patients have access to the resources they need, donor support enables the Institute to provide valuable patient care and support that extends outside the clinic. Dr. Thrower says the need for donor support will continue as the patient population and the need for space and staff continues to grow.

“Without our Shepherd donors, much of what we do for the MS community would come to a halt,” Dr. Thrower says. “From the facility to the personnel that we have, donor support has allowed us to become one of the most comprehensive MS programs in the country. On behalf of our entire team, we are grateful.”

Dr. Thrower says the need for donor support will continue as the patient population and the need for space and staff continues to grow. You can help support the MS Institute at Synovus Summer in the City, slated for Wednesday, July 18 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. Get your tickets and more information here.

5. We are optimistic about the future.

In what Dr. Thrower calls “an explosion of interest and research in MS,” in the last 20 years, things are looking up in terms of MS treatment.

“We have gone from having no FDA-approved treatment options in 1992 to having 16 options in 2018,” Dr. Thrower says. “Though we still do not have a cure, in the future, I expect to see more effective treatment options so that every newly diag-nosed person with MS is assured that MS will not lead to future disability. We are getting closer to the lofty goal of neural repair. This would mean reversing disability for many with MS.”

For more information about the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at Shepherd Center or to schedule an appointment, visit

To get more information on Synovus Summer in the City, contact Erin Schuster at 404-350-7304 or

Written by Sara Baxter

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.