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Return to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Overview

More on ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Neurology and Neuroscience

ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

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About ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive, degenerative disease of the voluntary motor system. Over time the muscles that control functions such as movement, speech, swallowing, and breathing may become progressively weaker and eventually these muscles become paralyzed. There is currently no cure for the disease.

NewYork-Presbyterian and ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

For ALS patients, quality of life is directly linked to the timeliness of their diagnosis and the appropriateness of their care. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center is one of the nation's largest ALS comprehensive care programs. The Center offers expertise, education, resources, and guidance to people diagnosed with ALS and to their families and caregivers. Patients treated at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center are under the care of a multidisciplinary team that includes:

  • Neurologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Social workers
  • Nutritionists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Gastroenterologists

These dedicated ALS experts offer state-of-the-art neurological evaluation, and work collaboratively to promote optimal functioning, support independence, and maintain quality of life throughout the course of each patient's disease.

Medical Treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Many drugs for ALS are being tested in clinical trials, but only one drug, Riluzole (Rilutek), is currently FDA approved for the treatment of ALS. Riluzole has been shown to slow the progression of the disease and prolong survival by several months. Other medications can alleviate symptoms such as muscle cramps, stiffness, and excess saliva. In the later stages of the disease patients may require the placement of a feeding tube or respirator, and may need palliative care.

Rehabilitation for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Physical, occupational, speech, and nutrition therapy all help patients maintain function as long as possible. Adaptive and augmentative equipment can help patients continue to communicate effectively, remain mobile, and ensure their safety. Rehabilitation experts at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center work with patients throughout their care. They will:

  • Evaluate muscle strength and motor skills and develop an individualized program to maintain existing motor function.
  • Recommend devices including neck supports, canes, walkers, wheelchairs and equipment for the home to ensure patient safety and mobility.
  • Discuss ways to modify activities, conserve energy, and simplify work.

Research for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

Researchers at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center and the Columbia University Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease are conducting studies of many different approaches to finding the causes of ALS, treating the disease, and improving care and management. These include:

  • Epidemiological studies to find genetic and environmental factors that may interact to cause ALS.
  • Clinical trials of new therapeutic medications for ALS.
  • Research into ways to improve the care and management of the disease in patients with ALS.
  • Laboratory and clinical studies to find diagnostic markers for ALS.

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