After receiving treatment for MS at Shepherd Center, Stephanie Anderson turned her symptoms and her life around.
In addition to leading a busy life as an attorney, wife, and mother, Stephanie Anderson had a goal: to complete the Campaign School at Yale University, a rigorous five-day program that prepares women to run for public office. That goal faded after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in February 2020. She was concerned the vision and cognitive issues she was experiencing as a result of the disease would make it challenging to learn new material.
Fortunately for Stephanie, her therapists at the Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute at Shepherd Center had a different idea. They worked with her to develop strategies and workarounds, including how to use the computer to compensate for her vision issues, take notes, and organize information.
“I was able to get through the program just fine,” Stephanie says. “I didn’t think that would be possible, but they gave me methods to do it.”
She never expected anything like that would be possible because after she received her diagnosis, the specialists she and her husband consulted painted a less than rosy picture.
“They said things like ‘prepare yourself,’ and ‘there’s no cure,’” and ‘your prognosis is uncertain,’” Stephanie remembers. “They weren’t motivating at all, and we were feeling very hopeless.”
Two people she knew urged her to “get to” the MS Institute at Shepherd Center. She got an appointment that August, but she wasn’t hopeful that things would be much different.
“We were expecting the same from Shepherd Center,” she admits. Luckily, they found the complete opposite. “After the first visit, I knew I was in the right place.”
Right away, Stephanie began physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Therapists worked with her on her vision, mobility, and cognitive issues.
“They helped me figure out how to live life and still be productive,” Stephanie says. She was also put on disease-modifying drugs and noticed dramatic improvements.
She continued to work as an estate and probate attorney, thankful that the pandemic allowed her to work from home, so she didn’t have to worry about going into the office.
“The timing was a gift,” she says. “It gave me some time to get used to my new normal, to get stronger, and to gain confidence.”
Last summer, she mentioned the Yale program to her therapists.
“Right away, they began working with me on the skills and strategies I would need to complete it,” she says. “It gave me such a sense of accomplishment.”
Finishing the class also gave her confidence to apply to be an associate judge in the Rockdale County Probate Court. In October 2021, she was appointed to the position. Since it is not full-time, she still practices law at her own firm.
Now Stephanie can walk without a cane, is able to stay active, and has taken up gardening. She still receives occupational and speech therapy weekly, and she has seen positive mental and physical improvements thanks to the infusion drugs she takes. For that, she credits Shepherd Center.
“Shepherd Center is like a warm hug,” Stephanie says. “It’s unlike any other place to get care for MS. They make it possible for you to accomplish things you wouldn’t think were possible. Getting treatment there has made all the difference in the world.”
Written By: Sara Baxter
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.