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Meet the Omaha Nurse Inspiring People Living with MS | NEWS-Line for Pharmacists

Meet the Omaha Nurse Inspiring People Living with MS


How can you exercise safely and effectively if your body doesn’t always do what your brain says to do?

This is a question faced by millions of people who live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a lifelong neurological disease that can drastically reduce a person’s mobility, autonomy, and quality of life. To help MS patients improve their safety and self-sufficiency in the gym, retired Omaha nurse practitioner Mary Filipi, PhD, APRN-C, created a specialized fitness program in conjunction with Daryl Kucera, gym founder, for people with MS.

Now, thanks to the Nightingale Award, Filipi has the funding she needs to expand her fitness program and amplify its positive impact for MS patients in Omaha and the therapists who treat them.

Filipi is one of nine recipients of the 2021 Nightingale Award, a special annual project of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN) which recognizes the important role that nursing professionals play in the lives of MS patients. The Nightingale Award is presented with funding support from EMD Serono, the Healthcare business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in the U.S. and Canada.

The Nightingale Award will help fund the design, construction, and testing of innovative assistive equipment such as a horizontal hip sled, a wheelchair-accessible cardio machine, a hip rotation machine, a shoulder/hip stretcher, an adaptive wheelchair soccer program, and a balance pathway. Additional funds will be allocated for computer program development, staffing considerations, and scholarships for participants with financial hardships.

Filipi’s MS-focused fitness program is conducted at MSforward, an Omaha gym owned by Daryl Kucera, an MS patient who has been working with Filipi since his MS diagnosis 20 years ago. MSforward specializes in adaptive fitness for the elderly and adults who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as MS, Parkinson’s, and impaired sight.

“Daryl’s first two MS relapses blinded him and put him in a wheelchair, and he rehabbed by working out at the gym, where his eyesight and ability to walk returned,” says Filipi. “He said the gym was his savior, and he asked if I thought this approach could help others.” Filipi developed her ever-evolving fitness program with regular input from MS-focused medical professionals, physical and occupational therapy students from five different Nebraska colleges and universities, and MS patients themselves.

“Physical activity is an important component in the multifaceted treatment of MS, along with medications, proper nutrition, and additional therapeutic programs,” says Filipi. “For example, we see noticeable cognitive and mobility improvement among our fitness program participants, regardless of whether they are walking on their own or using walkers or wheelchairs.”

Filipi says her fitness program’s first participants all had MS, but over the years they’ve also been joined by individuals with other physical limitations and illnesses. “They claimed MSforward as home because there wasn’t any other gym that wanted them or served them,” says Filipi. “Just because a person has some life challenges, that does not mean they have less worth. They don’t need to be treated with pity, but instead given credibility and the opportunity to contribute and succeed.”

About the Nightingale Award
In celebration of the World Health Organization (WHO)‘s International Year of the Nurse & Midwife, the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN) and EMD Serono are proud to announce the 2020 Nightingale Award, which is awarded to 10 eligible candidates in the U.S.. The IOMSN and EMD Serono are proud to collaborate on this unique project which marks a new opportunity to recognize the unique and valuable role that nursing professionals play in the lives of all those affected by multiple sclerosis https://iomsn.org/nightingaleaward-2022/


International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN) is the first and only international organization focusing solely on the needs and goals of professional nurses, anywhere in the world, who care for people with multiple sclerosis. Mentoring, educating, networking, sharing - the IOMSN supports nurses in their continuing effort to offer hope. http://iomsn.org/

About EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono - the healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the U.S. and Canada - aspires to create, improve and prolong life for people living with difficult-to-treat conditions like infertility, multiple sclerosis and cancer. The business is imagining the future of healthcare by working to translate the discovery of molecules into potentially meaningful outcomes.

Source & Photo: EMD Serono and International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN)

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