The ALS Association recently announced that three new grants are being awarded to address unmet needs regarding the clinical management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These funds will support research to benefit both ALS patients and caregivers by reducing unwanted weight loss in these patients, advancing techniques to improve their quality of life, and to assess the burden for caregivers when a loved suffering with ALS is affected with cognitive and behavioral deficiency.
The Chief Scientist for The Association, Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., said in a press release: “These important studies will help develop interventions that may offer real benefits to people living with ALS and their caregivers. Treatment of ALS requires many different kinds of approaches, and these studies provide the opportunity to develop yet more strategies to meet the needs of those affected by the disease.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects the nerve cells (neurons) both in the brain and spinal cord. ALS patients end up losing their ability to control muscles, which causes paralysis and ultimately death. Actually, there is no cure for the disease and not even treatments to prolong patients’ lives.
The three projects that will be funded are:
How Weight loss affects ALS patients — A project will enroll at least 100 people suffering with ALS at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to assess if telemedicine intervention by a nutrition counselor is more effective in preventing unwanted weight loss in comparison to an in-person clinic visit.
Mindfulness “can be defined as a flexible state of mind resulting from the simple act of actively noticing new things, has been found to improve health in people with chronic medical conditions,” as noted in the press release. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston and from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania will study whether mindfulness training can improve quality of life in ALS patients.
Cognitive or behavioral changes represent a burden to caregivers. Investigators from the Drexel University in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts General Hospital will study how it affects both patients and caregivers and how can it be facilitated.
The Association will provide enrollment details and center locations, once the information becomes available.
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