Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease characterized by the progressive loss of the nerve cells that control muscle movement. There is currently no cure for the disease, but there are a number of treatments that can reduce symptoms or delay its progression. Some of these are drug treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for ALS, while others are just symptomatic treatments.
Non-drug treatments such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help maintain patients’ quality of life, mobility, and ability to communicate with others for as long as possible.
Physiotherapy helps patients build and maintain muscle strength and may delay disease progression. Physiotherapists will work with patients and caregivers to design an exercise regimen that will strengthen muscles and ensure patients remain mobile for as long as possible.
The therapist may suggest stretches, range-of-motion exercises, and strengthening exercises to build specific muscle groups to assist with daily tasks. It is important that caregivers also work with the physiotherapist to learn how to assist the patient in performing the exercises.
Occupational therapists work in tandem with physiotherapists to help patients in their daily tasks. Occupational therapists help patients identify areas in their daily lives where they struggle, such as getting around, dressing, or brushing their teeth. Occupational therapists will suggest adaptive devices to assist patients and ensure they are able to use them correctly.
Occupational therapists may also prescribe aids such as walking canes, wheelchairs, and orthotic braces to help patients maintain mobility.
They will also work with caregivers to ensure they know how best to assist the patient in moving or with daily tasks.
Speech therapists help ALS patients maintain the ability to communicate with the people around them, even as the disease progresses and impairs their ability to speak. Speech therapists can help patients exercise the muscles in their face, jaw, and throat to aid in communication.
Speech therapists can also help patients who have difficulty swallowing. They can make recommendations about adaptive devices and diet changes that may help patients.
Speech therapists can help ALS patients with communication at every stage of the disease. This may mean making gestures or eye movement-based forms of communication as the disease progresses.
ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.