Hackensack Launches Group Treatment Program for Patients Newly Diagnosed with Neurological Disorders
Hackensack University Medical Center applies a group treatment experience for patients struggling with anxiety and other worries associated with chronic neurological diagnoses
Hackensack University Medical Center launched two group treatment programs to help people cope with the diagnosis of a chronic neurological disorder.
The first group is a 12-session stress management program for patients newly diagnosed with any chronic neurological disorder. The second group is for patients who have recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Both groups were initiated by Judith Creighton, Ph.D., who joined Hackensack University Medical Center in August 2022 as a rehabilitation psychologist and assistant professor of Neurology at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.
“We know that emotional problems can impact quality of life, resilience, partner relations, disease progression and treatment adherence for people who are living with neurological disorders,” said Dr. Creighton, who treats her patients using cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as acceptance and commitment therapy.
The stress management group program will focus on understanding anxiety symptoms and triggers and learning various coping strategies. In addition to anxiety management techniques, the MS group will also focus on promoting behaviors that help to reduce MS symptoms, such as sleep quality, exercise, adjusting to a diagnosis, dealing with unhelpful thoughts, coping with stress and navigating social relations.
“We are tackling one piece of the disease puzzle,” said Dr. Creighton who works closely with the neurologists who lead various centers of excellence for stroke, headache, Parkinson’s disease, MS, hereditary neuropathy, sleep disorders and ALS at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Whether a patient is catastrophizing about their condition, is struggling to manage their work and family responsibilities, or is afraid of falling during exercise, having resources to cope with these issues is critically important to the success of their treatment plan.”
In the future, the team hopes to launch additional group treatment programs for patients with long-term MS, movement disorders, and cognitive or memory disorders.
"So many of my patients struggle with adapting their self-image of a person who does not have to think about their body and its functions to one who faces challenges, to living well despite an illness, to accepting that their lives have changed,” said Krupa Pandey, M.D., director of the MS Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and associate professor of Neurology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “Their families face analogous challenges. That's where the therapeutic approach of folks like Dr. Creighton can be hugely helpful.”
Learn more about neurological innovations at Hackensack University Medical Center.