At the Montpellier University Hospital there are discussion groups to learn how to live with the disease

Assia Diani was there two years ago “at the bottom of the hole”. She is recovering from a very serious car accident and finds out that she has multiple sclerosis. A disease that she understands much better since participating in a support group at Montpellier University Hospital. A course called “Therapeutic patient education”.

“Therapeutic patient education consists in acquiring knowledge that will allow the patient to better manage their illness every day at home” – Xavier de la Tribonnière

68 chronic diseases now benefit from this treatment. This applies, for example, to diabetes, arthrosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma or addictions. For all of these long-term conditions, patients can join a nurse-led discussion group.

“Therapeutic patient education consists of acquiring knowledge that enables the patient to better manage his illness at home in everyday life”explains Professor Xavier de la Tribonnière, the program coordinator. These free, voluntary workshops, address both the medical aspect (treatment implementation, the right gestures, etc.) and the paramedical aspect. Starting with accepting himself and his illness.

The forerunner of the Montpellier University Hospital

In the ten years of its existence, the program has helped almost 4,000 patients in Montpellier. It has also expanded, with 7 new courses opening each year. To continue in this direction, the CHU has just launched a poster campaign entitled “I’m seriously ill, so what?”.

Xavier de la Tribonnière, coordinating doctor of the program.
Xavier de la Tribonnière, coordinating doctor of the program. © Radio France

A device presented as “innovative” and “personalized” by Xavier de la Tribonnière, the coordinating doctor of the program. According to him, that’s about it “Transfer skills to the patient”. That is, to make him more autonomous thanks to the advice of supervisors to break the taboos related to the disease.

Regain control of the disease

After a year and a half of follow-up, Assia Diani says it is her “completely revealed” during the patient’s therapeutic training. First on a medical level: “It allowed me to deconstruct certain beliefs about the disease, particularly misinformation I had read on the internet.”explains the 30-year-old from Perpignan.

In addition, there is the acceptance of the disease: “I still have a scarred body from my surgeries in my 20’s. Scars everywhere. I had no more intimacy, I even had trouble maintaining a romantic relationship because I rejected my body. I even made an appointment with all the tattoo artists in Perpignan to camouflage those scars. But thanks to the support groups, the meetings I was able to do, I changed my mind. After all, I’ve never had a tattoo, and I have never loved my body as much as I do today.

Assia Diani now wants to pass the baton on. She has developed into an “expert patient”, meaning she has been trained to co-facilitate multiple sclerosis workshops.

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