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Amyotrophic Lateral
Presented By: Jillymae Medina
What is ALS?
 Often referred to as "Lou
Gehrig's disease”
 It’s a progressive
neurological disease that
affects nerve cells in the
brain and the spinal cord
 The onset is between 40 to
70 years of age
 Twice as many men as
women are affected
What happens to the body in ALS?
 For unknown reasons, motor neurons in the
brainstem and spinal cord gradually
 When the motor neurons die, the ability of the
brain to initiate and control muscle movement
is lost
Early symptoms of ALS
 Difficulty lifting the front part of the foot
 Weakness in the leg, feet or ankles
 Hand weakness or clumsiness
 Slurring of speech or trouble swallowing
 Muscle cramps and twitching in the arms,
shoulders and tongue
 Fatigue
 The muscles begin to atrophy
•Limbs begin to look "thinner" as
muscle tissue atrophies.
What else?
 Eventually, when the muscles in the
diaphragm and chest wall become too weak,
patients require a ventilator to breathe
 Most people with ALS die from respiratory
failure, usually 3 to 5 years after being
 No test can provide a definitive diagnosis of
 Patient's full medical history and a
neurological examination to assess
whether symptoms are getting progressively
 The diagnosis of ALS is primarily based on
the symptoms and signs the physician
observes in the patient and a series of tests
to rule out other diseases:
 Electromyogram
 Nerve Conduction Study
 MRI, CT Scans
 Spinal Tap
 Blood & Urine Test
 Muscle biopsy
 No cure has yet been found for ALS
 Riluzole (Rilutek) is believed to reduce damage
to motor neurons by decreasing the release of
 Rilutek prolongs survival by several months
 The drug also extends the time before a patient
needs ventilation support
 Does not reverse the damage already done to
motor neurons, and patients taking the drug
must be monitored for liver damage and other
possible side effects
 A physical therapist can recommend a low
impact excersice to maintain muscle strength
and ROM
 An occupational therapist may be able to
suggest devices such braces, walker or
wheelchair and ramps that make it easier for
the pt to get around
 A speech therapist can help teach techniques
to make speech more clearly understood and
offer devices to make communication easier
Prognosis & Nursing Care
 ALS usually leads to death within 2 to 6 years
after diagnosis
 This illness is devastating because the pt
remains cognitively intact while wasting away
 Nursing care is aimed to support the patient’s
cognitive and emotional state in means of
communication, reading, companionship and
helping the patient and family cope with the
disease process