Non-drug Treatments for ALS
Acupuncture is an alternative treatment in which an acupuncturist inserts thin needles at strategic points throughout the body to treat illness or disease. The goal of acupuncture in ALS is to treat paralysis, ease symptoms of the disease, and improve patients’ quality of life. The most commonly used acupuncture techniques for ALS patients include scalp and spinal acupuncture.
As ALS progresses, everyday tasks become difficult for patients. The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients maintain their independence for as long as possible as well as to improve their quality of life. They can suggest adaptive devices to assist patients and ensure that they are able to use those devices correctly. Health professionals, such as nurses or doctors, can help patients and their families find an occupational therapist.
Physiotherapy is a treatment strategy that focuses on movement. For ALS patients, it can be used to restore, maintain, and maximize physical strength, function, motion, and well-being. Physical therapists recommend exercises to maintain flexibility while preventing and reducing pain. They also may provide instruction regarding the use of assistive aids or adaptive devices to maximize patient mobility.
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. Patients are taught exercises for the muscles in their face, jaw, and throat to aid in communication. They can also help patients who have difficulty swallowing by recommending adaptive devices and diet changes.
Diet and Supplements
Insufficient intake of nutrients and energy (malnutrition) and weight loss are common in people with ALS. Decreased food intake occurs mainly because of symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, as well as issues with hand grip and movement. In addition, digestive symptoms and malnutrition can exacerbate symptoms. Proper diet and nutritional supplements may help prevent or alleviate malnutrition in ALS patients.