ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a degenerative disease caused by the deterioration of the motor neurons in our nervous system. This process can lead to the death of these cells causing muscular paralysis in the patient.
Of the ALS cases currently diagnosed, 10% are linked to genetic disorders, with 90% remaining a mystery to medical community. Research in this field therefore continues to be essential for improving prospects for ALS patients.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a highly disabling disease. Fortunately, advances in both medical treatments and specific technology have been made in recent years which allow for progressive improvement in patients’ quality of life.
Present day treatments – looking toward the future
The battle against ALS is currently focused around three main pillars:
– Activities aimed at stopping the advance of ALS in its various stages.
– Effective treatment of symptoms to improve patients’ quality of life.
– Multidisciplinary patient care in order to discover new approaches which may bring new solutions to light for a complex issue.
As regards ALS treatment, one drug in particular, Riluzol (at present, the only medication approved for use in the US) which improves life expectancy in 10% of cases and can provide moderate delays in the development of ALS.
Other noteworthy treatments currently undergoing clinical trials include CoenzymeQ10, as well as alternative methods of combatting the symptoms of the disease, based on the use of certain antioxidants, such as beta carotene or vitamins C and E.
Advances which benefit day to day living
Though not strictly medical or pharmacological, other advances and treatments are also helping to make patients’ lives easier:
– New devices, such as chips implanted into patients’ brains, allowing them to move computer cursors and activate different options.
– Considerably smaller electronic wheelchairs which, thanks to a new folding system, are much easier to transport in conventional vehicles.
– New portable ramps allowing more and more patients to live in the family home as opposed to the hospital.
Without a doubt, all of these solutions make living with ALS easier for patients and those around them and help them to fight the day to day battle which can be difficult and complex. Advances in psychological support treatments and pain relief medication are helping to treat more severe cases of the disease.