Period 9 ALS

Amyotrophic lateral
(Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve
cells of the brain and spinal cord that control
voluntary muscle coordination..
Meet Jim, Jim is a 48 year old male who has been
experiencing weakness of the legs and lots of muscle cramps.
Jim has had these symptoms for a few months now, and has
finally decided to go to the doctors.
Weakness of speech muscles, hands legs or
Twitching and cramping of muscles, especially
in the hands and feet.
Slurred speech or difficulty speaking.
Difficulty chewing or breathing.
Trouble using the hands for daily activities
such as buttoning a shirt.
Affected Regions of the Brain
● ALS affects the motor cortex,
which contains motor neurons
that control voluntary muscle
Diagnosis of ALS
Blood test: Testing for the enzyme creatine kinase
which leaks out of damaged muscles.
Cerebrospinal Fluid Exam: Tests the fluid around
your spinal cord and brain.
Electromyogram (EMG): Indicates whether or not
motor nerves are functioning properly.
MRI: Performed to rule out any conditions related
to the nervous system.
Muscle Biopsy: Performed to rule out any
muscular disorders.
Nerve Conduction Study: Measures the electrical
impulses and functioning in your nerves and
Respiratory Test: Performed to see if the muscles
that control breathing are affected by the
Medications: The doctor will prescribe medication based on the
symptoms and severity of your condition. Medication may reduce
symptoms such as pain, stiffness and muscle cramps.
Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy: Doctors will have the patient
perform exercises such as biking or swimming to strengthen the muscles
and stretches to help prevent cramps. They will also introduce assistive
equipment to the patient as the disease progresses.
Speech Therapy: A patient may need a speech therapist as the disease
progresses. They can help the patient learn to speak more clearly as it
becomes harder for them to use speech muscles.
Nutritional Specialist: They may advise a patient on what foods to eat as
it becomes harder for them to swallow.
Mental Health Specialist: Psychologists can help an ALS patient learn to
cope with the emotional effects of the disease. Also, social workers may
be involved in helping a patient get the equipment they need and deal
with their financial issues.
An individual with ALS will experience increased muscle
weakness as the disease progresses. A patient will have
increased difficulty with moving, speaking and swallowing.
Eventually, the patient will not be able to walk, stand up or
get out of bed without help. Later stages of the disease will
increase weakness in the muscles of the respiratory system,
making it difficult for a patient to breath. Most people with
ALS will die form respiratory failure after about 3 to 5 years
of the onset symptoms.
Error in Communication
In ALS, the motor neurons begin to degenerate or die. Because the
motor neurons are not sending signals to muscles, muscles weaken and
lose their ability to function. Eventually all muscles under voluntary
control are affected and patients lose all ability to move.
Biomedical Professionals
• Physical Therapists: They will treat patients with injuries and
help them manage their pain. In order to become a physical
therapist a graduates degree is required along with licensing.
They will recommend specific exercises for the patients with
ALS to strengthen muscles and help them maintain range of
• Respiratory Therapists: They care for patients that have
difficulty breathing. In order to become a respiratory therapist
an associates degree is required, along with licensing in most
states. They will evaluate breathing and muscle strength for
the patient and also provide necessary equipment to help
them breathe.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (2014, April 9). Retrieved November 11, 2014,
NINDS Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Information Page. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 11, 2014, from
About ALS. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2014, from
Physical Therapy: Required Education to Be a Physical Therapist. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 12, 2014, from
Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from

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