» Diagnosing ALS
At the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Multidisciplinary Care Center, a neurologist with expertise in ALS conducts the ALS evaluation. The first step in being evaluated is to be seen by Dr. Mitsumoto or one of his associates at the Center. A thorough neurological examination will be conducted and previous tests reviewed. If indicated, additional diagnostic examinations (tests) may be recommended.
On the day of the evaluation with the neurologist, you may also be seen by one of the ALS nurse clinicians. The nurse clinician will assist you with additional information you may need regarding the evaluation and tests recommended, prescriptions, and, if indicated, referrals for physical rehabilitation. In this way your symptoms may be addressed even in the absence of a definite diagnosis.
You will be asked to return to the ALS Multidisciplinary Care Center after all of your testing is complete to meet again with the neurologist for a diagnostic discussion. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you will also meet with the multidisciplinary team members who will provide evaluation and specific recommendations for how to approach the changes you are experiencing.
It is very important that the individual diagnosed with ALS maintain regular contact with an ALS center. Effective symptom management will help maintain and enhance quality of life. This includes regular assessment of physical functioning in order to provide education and guidance concerning the maintenance of strength, balance, and safety. Additionally, nutritional intake should be assessed regularly and adjustments made according to changes in physical status. Respiratory function should also be monitored on a regular basis.
Symptoms such as muscle cramps and stiffness and excess saliva can often be alleviated with medications. Adaptive and augmentative equipment can help to maintain effective communication, mobility, and safety.
It is also extremely important that the individual diagnosed with ALS become educated in order to pro-actively plan their medical care. Long-term prognosis and quality of life is enhanced when individuals participate actively in their medical management. Furthermore, the diagnosis of a chronic long-term illness can be a motivating factor in setting one's affairs in order.
Attending ALS support groups on a regular basis is an effective way to remain abreast of new medical developments.
Additionally, clinical therapeutic research trials should be investigated. The numbers of clinical research trials have risen in the past few years. More therapeutic opportunities are available now than ever before for those diagnosed with ALS.
The multidisciplinary team at the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Multidisciplinary Care Center offers expertise, education, resources, and guidance to the individual diagnosed with ALS.