The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness
The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness is a specialized clinical and research program for individuals with impairment and disability related to tick borne illness. The goals of the Dean Center are to improve the care and function of patients with Lyme disease and other tick borne illness by focusing on individualized treatment, ongoing education, and emerging science.
In the US, the CDC acknowledges 300,000 new cases of Lyme Disease annually and Lyme Disease is endemic in New England. Patients can present with flu-like symptoms and a characteristic "bulls-eye" rash and if recognized, begin early antibiotic treatment. However, some patients bitten by an infected deer tick may never have a recognizable rash and may not have symptoms until months or years later. Early symptoms can include impairments to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Some patients suffer ongoing symptoms despite early antibiotic treatment, and continue suffering from chronic symptoms of encephalopathy, joint pain, and fatigue, among others.
Causes of the Disease and How We are Helping
There are a number of reasons patients may develop complications from Lyme disease – untreated or undertreated infection, autoimmunity, and inflammation. If the disease is unrecognized in the early stages patients can develop late infection from Lyme. There are many strains of the Lyme bacterium and our current tests are inadequate, making diagnosis rely on clinical symptoms. The current 2 tiered diagnostic tests fail to catch early Lyme disease consistently. In a recent study by the experts at CDC, the current test failed to test positive in patients with early Lyme disease who had a confirmed erythema migrans rash, missing 69% of the individuals tested.
The current 2 tiered Lyme test also does not detect other species of tick borne Borrelia infection that are present in the US such as Borrelia miyamotoi, Borrelia lonestari, and Borrelia hermsii. Due to the current inadequacies of testing, patients are likely to develop symptoms of late Lyme Disease and injuries to multiple organ systems.
There are several theories on why patients remain ill. Some of the proposed mechanisms are persistent infection, where the spirochete might survive current antibiotic regimens and remain in the system, continuing to irritate the immune system. Other studies illuminate autoimmune dysregulation after an infection and research ongoing inflammation.
The Dean Center nurtures relationships with referring providers to help arrive at the most appropriate care plan and plan a compassionate and comprehensive, evidence based and patient centered care.
Approach to Care: What You Can Expect
As a patient of the Dean Center Tick Borne Illness Clinic you can expect to be evaluated by a dedicated clinician who specializes in developing treatment and rehabilitation plans for patients with chronic symptoms from Lyme and other tick borne illnesses. Many patients will receive a thorough clinical evaluation and health history, followed by therapeutic, supportive care and case management. Treatment possibilities include physical therapy, aquatic therapy, nutrition, behavioral health, pain management, restorative yoga, and others.
Clinic Location and Contact
The Dean Center outpatient clinic is located at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown. To make an appointment, please call 617.952.6220.
The Lyme Disease and Tick Borne Illness Patient Support Group is a patient organized and led group that meets once per month at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. The group offers speakers, support, and other resources, and meets in the Chapel Room from 1:00pm-3:00pm on the first Saturday of each month. For more information or to join, please contact Bill Coady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dean Center is initiating novel research studies to further study and improve the rehabilitation of patients with Lyme disease and related tick borne illness. Research projects and collaborations are currently focused on pain, cognitive deficits, and the establishment of a longitudinal data set of Lyme Disease patients. Find out more about our ongoing research studies.
Spaulding’s Outpatient Therapy Centers and the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness physicians and clinicians provide expert rehabilitation care for patients with chronic illness and disability related to Lyme Disease, other tick born illnesses, and related tick borne co-infections.
Our clinicians use the latest treatments and technologies to help patients achieve their highest level of strength, endurance and function. Services include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech-Language Therapy
- Use of Neuro-rehabilitation technologies
- Neuromodulation modalities for rehabilitation of cognitive function
- Functional activity training
- Aquatic Therapy
- Brace and orthotic clinics
- Custom anti-spasticity and prefabricated hand splinting
- Evaluation for equipment needs
- Safety assessments
- Case management services
- Mental Health Counseling services
- Collaboration with other specialties for appropriate timely referrals if needed