Currently, there isn’t a treatment available to cure or reverse amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) but there are treatments available that can help improve quality of life for those living with the disease. According to the ALS Therapy Development Institute, these include:
Medications for symptoms
Medications can be used to address some of the symptoms associated with ALS (e.g., Mexiletine for muscle spasms, Botox for excessive salivation and Gilenya to help reduce neuroinflammation). There are many more drugs that are either awaiting FDA approval for the use in ALS patients or are currently in clinical trials. There are clinical trials happening right now to test a drug that may help protect motor neurons and keep patients’ muscles moving.
Radicava is a newly FDA-approved medication that’s been shown to slow down the progression of ALS by around one-third. The drug is likely to be available to those living with ALS in the U.S. by August.
Ongoing care and management by a multidisciplinary team can help make life more comfortable for people living with ALS. Physical and occupational therapy can help preserve muscle function for as long as possible and can reduce contractures. These types of therapies will also help patients better adapt to their changing circumstances.
As the disease progresses, ALS patients will need to use breathing and feeding equipment, as well as electric wheelchairs. For those living with the disease, BiPAP machines can help breathing and improve sleep quality. Phrenic Pacers can help strengthen respiratory muscles and are thought to be able to extend life expectancy by 18 months.
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