University of Iowa to Launch Multidisciplinary DM Clinic

Published on Tue, 09/02/2014

The University of Iowa Hospital (UIHC) has a 20 year-long history of treating patients with myotonic dystrophy (DM). This year UIHC plans to build upon its efforts to serve DM patients by offering a multidisciplinary DM clinic under one roof in late fall of 2014.

The clinic will be staffed by providers from neurology, cardiology, psychiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dietary services, social work, genetic counseling, speech therapy/swallow therapy, and sleep medicine. The multidisciplinary clinic aims to provide a patient-centered, comprehensive team-based approach that will coordinate care across disciplines, providing easily accessible services for DM patients. 

“Our goal in creating the DM clinic at UIHC is to improve the quality of life for DM patients,” says Laurie Gutmann, MD, Clinical Professor of Neurology, and Director of the Myotonic Dystrophy Multidisciplinary Clinic. The planned DM clinic will allow patients to schedule half-day appointments to see multiple specialists in one location. “We want to be proactive in our approach to managing patients’ symptoms. Providing ease of access to specialists who see DM patients on a regular basis, and who understand the complexity of DM, will help in meeting the needs of DM patients,” adds Dr. Gutmann. 

In addition to improving access to services for DM patients, the UIHC DM clinic will be better situated to streamline DM research at the facility, enabling investigators to establish research and clinical trial protocols quickly and effectively. An improved understanding of the progression of the disease will enable the team to measure the effectiveness and possible side-effects of future clinical trials of drug therapies.    

At UIHC, Peg Nopoulos, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pediatrics and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry, is using brain imaging and neurogenetics to better understand the heredity and neurological progression of the disease. “By following changes in the brain we hope to anticipate symptoms before they occur, and to understand how the brain’s molecular biology relates to DM symptoms.” says Dr. Nopoulos. Sarah Tighe, MD, Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry at the UIHC DM clinic, is also investigating brain-based features of DM, such as depression, anxiety, and memory disturbances.

The launch of the UIHC multidisciplinary DM clinic adds to the growing interest in DM care and potential therapies. While the multidisciplinary DM clinic at UIHC doesn't launch until late fall, DM specialty services are currently available. To make an appointment at the UIHC DM clinic, call Erin Springer at (319) 356-8958. For pediatric information and appointments, contact Christina Trout at (319) 356-4017.

If you are attending the 2014 MDF Annual Conference, you can hear Dr. Tighe speak in the session, “DM and Emotional Health: Depression and Anxiety.” If you can’t attend the conference, you will be able to watch the session via MDF’s livestream broadcast. View the 2014 MDF Annual Conference web content for more information about the livestream broadcast. You can also view conference sessions starting in late September online in our Digital Academy.