Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Receiving a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can alter almost every aspect of your life. Our comprehensive team at the NeuroRehab and Balance Center is
committed to providing compassionate care to patients with ALS and maximizing quality of life. We aim to manage symptoms, promote independence, and coordinate care.
Your Comprehensive Therapy Team
Each member of your team is crucial to maintaining and or improving function and helping improve quality of life.
- Physical Therapy (PT)
- Occupational Therapy (OT)
- Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
- Social Work & Case Management
Your team will assess your specific needs and develop an individualized care plan that addresses every step of your ALS journey. They will immediately begin services
designed to assist you and your family and maximize your health such as:
Carefully designed exercise programs can help maintain maximal muscle strength and prevent complications such as skin breakdown and respiratory problems.
Treatment will focus on increasing strength and range of motion needed to complete self-care activities. Treatment can also involve training caregivers to assist with self-care activities.
Adaptive equipment may be prescribed to improve independence. Examples of adaptive equipment include reachers, long handled sponges for bathing, walkers and modified utensils for eating, as well as more advanced electronic equipment such as environmental control units.
Your PT and/or OT may conduct a home evaluation to ensure safety and accessibility in your home. Our specially trained staff including a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) will help to improve safety and accessibility within your home. Your therapist may make simple recommendations such as installing grab bars or suggestions for larger changes such as installing a roll in shower.
Weakness and fatigue are two of the primary symptoms of ALS. Your therapists will teach you how to use energy conservation techniques to help reduce fatigue, enabling you to participate in daily activities.
Skin integrity is an important issue in the later stages of ALS. Proper positioning can help prevent skin breakdown and assist with pain management.
Education and Training
Patient and caregiver education is essential to assist with decision making and maximizing quality of life. Your rehab team will provide the specific details needed to understand choices, make decisions, plan ahead and maintain control over your life and adjust to the progression of ALS. Family members and caregivers will be taught important aspects of care such as transfers, while patients learn positioning, tube feeding, and to direct caregivers in regards to their own care.
Your team at the NeuroRehab and Balance Center understands that along with a need for practical solutions, ALS brings a host of emotional, family and financial concerns that occur throughout every stage of the disease. Psychosocial issues need to be considered in regards to the feelings your loved ones may be experiencing as the result of a terminal illness. Depression, anxiety, anger, denial, apathy and loss of control of one's life are common feelings experienced with fatal illnesses. Support groups, private counseling and interacting with others with ALS may be helpful in adjusting to living with the disease.
Customized power wheelchairs and other mobility devices may be necessary as the disease progresses. Your therapists will assist in choosing and fitting the right equipment.
An early speech symptom for ALS involves one's ability to speak loud and clear, this is called dysarthria. Dysarthria related symptoms of ALS include nasal speech quality and increased difficulty pronouncing words. Your speech-language pathologist (SLP) will provide speech techniques to improve intelligibility. These techniques help decrease rate of speech, "over-articulating", and the use of nonverbal communication. Your SLP is competent and experienced in training you and your caregivers with selection and use of an augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) system when verbal communication is no longer effective.
Your speech-language pathologist (SLP) will also evaluate and treat chewing and swallowing difficulties. Solid food consistencies may be difficult to manage and as time progresses, it may become difficult to safely swallow liquids and even pureed foods. With fatigue and respiratory issues, coordinating breathing and swallowing may also be a problem for adequate food and liquid intake. Your SLP may also conduct a videofluoroscopy swallowing assessment, and provide extensive education, training and gentle swallowing exercises. You will be taught swallowing strategies, how to modify your diet, and how to compensate for muscle fatigue while eating.
"About a year ago, I began to experience difficulty in my speech. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with ALS. My speech began to worsen. My doctor recommended that I get some therapy to help. He recommended the NeuroRehab and Balance Center.
I began to receive voice and physical therapy there and I have been receiving this about once a week. This therapy and their wonderful therapists have helped me greatly in managing my difficulties in swallowing, speaking and eating.
My problems were advancing paralysis and the techniques that the therapists provided aided me greatly in these daily physical and personal needs. The therapists were very understanding and would listen to my needs and point out how to help myself using various techniques."
Access Center for Independent Living
901 South Ludlow Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
North Dayton Area Support Group
Meets third Wednesday of each month 11am - 1pm
West Charleston Church of the Brethren
4817 South State Route 202
Tipp City, OH 45371
Whitney Taverna, Dayton Regional Coordinator
866-273-2572, ext. 111
Managing Grief- Coffee and Conversation
The Franciscan Center at St Leonard's Campus
Meets the second Thursday of each month
10am - 11am
For more information, contact:
Bonnie Orlins, MSW at Hospice of Dayton (937) 604-1284
Erin Fleming, LSW at St. Leonard (937) 436-6308
MDA ALS Caregiver's Guide
American Speech Language Association
University of Cincinnati Health Library: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association of America
Les Turner ALS Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke