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     Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Intro

At onset, the signs and symptoms of ALS are often very subtle. They can be vague and nonspecific. This means that they could be caused by many different conditions, not necessarily a motor neuron disease.

  1. Any progressive difficulty in carrying out a normal activity such as walking, writing, or swallowing , warrants an evaluation by your doctor.
  2. Occasional clumsiness or muscle cramping is not unusual and does not mean that you have ALS.
Self-Care at Home

ALS is a slowly progressive disease causing gradual disability. Once you begin to lose muscle function, you also begin to lose the ability to care for yourself.

  1. Gradually you become dependent on caregivers to take care of your bodily needs. At first, for example, you may have difficulty walking; later you will require help transferring from bed to chair or wheelchair. Eventually even the smallest movement requires assistance.
  2. The medical care team may include the primary care provider, specialist physicians, physical therapist, speech and communication therapist, respiratory therapist, social worker, nutritionist, and nurses. This team will provide much help in preparing you and your family to cope with this disability.
  3. Spouses and other relatives bear the major responsibility for day-to-day care.
  4. Home health aides can help relieve the stress  of providing this round-the-clock care. They help by bathing, dressing, transferring, and feeding you as well as providing other services that prevent complications and provide comfort.
Follow-up

Once ALS is diagnosed, you will require regular visits with the medical team that is providing your care. These visits will monitor the course of the disease and the effects of treatment. They will also alert the medical team to needs for changes or additions to the treatment regimen.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent ALS. This is one of the goals of ongoing research on ALS.

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