Conditions & Treatments

Lyme Disease

The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness

Tick on finger

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.

Support Groups

In addition to behavioral health counseling, the Dean Center offers several types of group support to assist patients in coping with the emotional challenges and stress of chronic illness. Guided by a mental health counselor with expertise in tick-related illness, the Dean Center offers the following at no charge:

For inquiries, please email klang8@partners.org.

Research

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.

Case Management

Case Management involves the coordination of care and identification of resources available in the community to address and meet the specific needs of each individual patient. Case managers serve as a patient advocate by directing effective communication between the patient and appropriate team members. They also assist with insurance issues and concerns, and coordinate home health services if appropriate. 

The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness has a dedicated case manager on its team who provides the following services, among others:

  • Directs patients to Lyme literate providers and treatment centers that incorporate integrative/holistic approaches in conjunction with traditional medical management in the patient's geographical area
  • Shares information on support and advocacy groups
  • Provides resources and information regarding financial support and assistance
  • Connects patients to nutritional services

Locations

Related Services

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:

Find a Service

Please call for more information or to make a referral

Inpatient: 1.617.952.5350

Outpatient: 1.888.SRN.4330

Donate to the Dean Center

Support the Dean Center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Learn More