Welcome to Living Well with MS. In this episode, we are pleased to welcome Overcoming MS Ambassador Kristi Peak-Oliveira, who has been following the Overcoming MS Program since 2016 and is an Ambassador for the Boston Circle. She is also a pathologist and the assistant director for assistive technology services at ‘Easterseals Massachusetts’, whose clients include people with multiple sclerosis.
Watch this episode on YouTube here. Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Kristi's bio.
Questions and Timestamps
01:00 Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your MS diagnosis?
05:08 How did you come across Overcoming MS?
07:14 Tell us about how you became the Ambassador for the Boston Circle.
11:44 Have you talked to your neurologist about Overcoming MS?
18:28 You work as a speech pathologist and as the assistant director for assistive technology services at ‘Easterseals Massachusetts’. Could you tell us what that is?
21:08 What are some examples of assistive technology that can help symptoms like cog fog and memory issues?
24:54 Do you have examples of assistive technology for fine motor control as well?
26:13 Is there anything we can do ourselves to make our devices more accessible?
26:59 Can you tell us about your upcoming trip to Peru, to take assistive technology to orphan children with disabilities?
31:39 You have always loved dancing, are you still able to dance with your MS symptoms?
35:41 What advice would you offer to someone who has been newly diagnosed with MS?
Selected Key Takeaways
Assistive technology helps people complete daily tasks more independently.
18:45 “Assistive technology is a broad category, but it's basically almost anything that can compensate for your disabilities to help you access different life skills, whether it's working on a computer, cleaning your house, or remembering to take your medication. Augmentative communication is what I do as a speech pathologist, [and] is a subset of assistive technology. It focuses on someone who is not able to use speech as their primary means of communication. So, we're helping them with technology.”
Kristi credits the Overcoming MS Program for giving her the confidence to take a humanitarian trip to Peru.
30:32 “My yoga teacher got this idea; it's called ‘Project Give a Voice’. I'm going with her in September for two weeks to bring augmentative communication to students in Peru who are not able to speak. I'm really excited about it [and] she's excited about it [too]. It's because of Overcoming MS. If it wasn't for Overcoming MS, I might not ever have tried yoga or ended up with this teacher. [Following] Overcoming MS gives me the confidence to know that I'm going to physically be able to participate in this trip.”
Finding a reason to live well helps Kristi stay motivated.
32:58 “You have to find something that's really motivating. For me, it was my dance class. I didn't want to give up my dance class, I love the women there. That was the thing that really motivated me to dig into Overcoming MS. Over time, foot drop was an issue [and] I've definitely fallen in the class. But over time, I've definitely noticed especially my right foot, (my right side is more affected) has gained in strength.”
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More info and links:
- Learn more about Project Give a Voice
- Easterseals Massachusetts Home Page
- Easterseals Massachusetts assistive technology page
- Read a guide for doctors and other healthcare workers when speaking with patients about assistive technology and MS. It was written by a speech-language pathologist who works at a nursing home dedicated to people with progressive neurological diseases whom Kristi knows professionally.
- Listen to the episodes Vickie the Ambassador from Connecticut was on:
- New to Overcoming MS? Visit our introductory page
- Connect with others following Overcoming MS on the Live Well Hub
- Visit the Overcoming MS website
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Kristi’s MS and Overcoming MS journey
Kristi was diagnosed with MS in July of 2016 and started following the Overcoming MS program later that year. She has been a part of the Boston, US Circle since it began and now serves as the Ambassador.
Kristi’s personal life
Kristi is married with two adult children, and thanks to Overcoming MS continues to enjoy activities such as yoga, dance class, gardening, and singing in her church choir.
Kristi has been a speech-language pathologist for over 30 years and currently serves as assistant director of assistive technology services at Easterseals Massachusetts, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to serving the needs of individuals with disabilities. Clients include those with multiple sclerosis, and they are provided with assistive technology (AT) solutions to compensate for sensory, physical and cognitive challenges. Kristi has used AT solutions herself to deal with MS symptoms and exacerbations and is happy to share the information so others with MS can benefit.