Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis • Orlando Hyperbarics Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis • Orlando Hyperbarics

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Medical Condition

Name: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Alternate Names: Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Motor Neuron Disease, Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS)

Associated Anatomy: Motor nerves and muscle

Causes:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is caused by degeneration of motor nerves in the central nervous system that are responsible for stimulating movement in many of the muscles in the body. There is no cure for ALS and it ultimately leads to death. No direct causative factor for development of ALS has been discovered. Many scientists have agreed that a combination of factors associated with motor nerve cell destruction, accumulation of abnormal proteins, mutations of certain genes and over activation of certain chemicals may be to blame.

Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Sign or Symptoms:

Initially, signs and symptoms of ALS include difficulty walking, weakness in the legs, slurred speech, muscle cramps and twitching, trouble swallowing, and difficulty holding the head up. In the later stages patients experience difficulty with breathing due to the disease’s effects on the diaphragm which ultimately leads to death. Paralysis of the diaphragm leads to respiratory arrest. Mental capabilities remain intact and are usually unaffected. Prompt treatment of other symptoms is key to ensuring that patient experiences as much high quality time as possible.

Treating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Possible Treatment:

Treatment of ALS is mainly geared toward controlling symptoms and disease progression as it is impossible to cure or reverse this illness. Quite often treatment requires the work of an interdisciplinary healthcare team. Physical therapy is required to maintain strength and activity tolerance, speech therapists work with patients to improve oral muscle strength and coordination to preserve speech and swallowing skills, a dietician helps to maintain adequate nutrition and support groups and counselors help to maintain mental health. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been successful in decreasing the level of fatigue experienced by patients who suffer from ALS. In addition, research has proven that the body has the ability to generate new nerves and the connections between them that are required for proper transmission of impulses. HBOT has proven to be effective in stimulating the production of new blood vessels. The increase in the number of blood vessels produced by hyperbaric therapy leads to increased blood flow to the nervous system and the ability to form new connections between nerves.

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