Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) affects essential functions like walking, speech, and eating, with devastating effects. The experienced team at Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders (DCND) offers expert ALS diagnosis at offices in Centerville, Springfield, Eaton, Wilmington, Hillsboro, and Beavercreek, Ohio. Ask your health care provider for a referral, then Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders front office staff will call you to schedule an ALS evaluation.
ALS (originally known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is an incurable neurodegenerative condition. It destroys motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle control loss throughout your body. ALS affects your arm and leg control and your ability to speak, eat, sleep, and breathe.
Initial ALS symptoms vary from patient to patient, but gradually worsening muscle weakness is common. You might start slurring your speech or talk differently and have difficulty grasping objects. You’ll likely experience abnormal limb fatigue and fasciculations (uncontrollable muscle twitches).
The most common form of this condition is sporadic ALS, accounting for 90% of cases. The remaining 10% of patients have familial ALS, inherited through a mutated gene.
ALS is challenging to diagnose in its early stages because many of its symptoms resemble other neurological disorders. Therefore, the Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders team will likely run tests to rule them out.
After a physical exam and medical history review, you might need to undergo one or more of the following:
Most people with ALS are 40-70, and it’s more common in men. It’s not clear why, but military veterans have double the risk of developing ALS compared to the general population.
The life expectancy of someone with ALS is typically 2-5 years.
There’s no cure for ALS, but treatments that can help include:
Several medications are available for ALS. They can’t reverse existing damage but may slow symptom progression and could help you stay comfortable for longer.
Physical therapy and regular exercise help you walk, improve mobility, keep muscles functioning better, and assist with pain management. Physical therapists can also help you get and learn to use braces, walkers, and wheelchairs.
Speech therapy helps you learn new ways to communicate after ALS starts affecting speech.
Occupational therapists teach you valuable daily living skills so you can remain independent for longer.
Psychological and nutritional support is also available to help you manage the emotional effects of having ALS and maintain good nutrition as swallowing becomes harder.
If you or someone you love suspects or has ALS, ask your primary care provider for a referral to Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders. Then, someone from the team can contact you to schedule an appointment.