Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

ALS is a progressive disease that affects the action of voluntary muscles of our body due to death of nerve cells in parts of the brain and spinal cord. This leads to eventual wasting and atrophy of all voluntary muscles, including muscles that are used for respiration. The disease in its later stages may cause variable problems with communication, increases immobility or lead to total paralysis of the patient. The most usual cause of death in ALS is related to respiratory failure.

Symptoms of ALS

  • Difficulty breathing, speaking and swallowing
  • Loss of function
  • Inability to control body due to wasting of muscles
  • Dependency on others for even the most ordinary tasks, such as bathing, dressing or eating
  • Physical discomfort
  • Emotional pain
  • Anxiety

Palliative Care For ALS

Palliative care for ALS is specialized medical care provided by a team of physicians who are expert in palliative medicine, patient’s treating neurologists and support staff. They are well-versed with all the techniques required to navigate the complex healthcare system.

Although palliative care can be given at any age and at any stage of illness but ideally, it should be started as soon as the patient is diagnosed with ALS and be continued throughout the entire course of illness and treatment. It gives best results when given along with curative treatment.

Goals Of Palliative Care For ALS

  • Manage patient symptoms
  • Oversee the coordination of care
  • Reduce the stress of illness and treatment
  • Improve the quality of life of patient and his family
  • Provide an extra layer of support
  • Control anything and everything that is controllable

Advantages Of Palliative Care For ALS

  • Provides first line of defense against any symptoms of pain, discomfort, depression or anxiety
  • Help patient and his loved ones make both small and large decisions about treatment, insurance, hospital or home treatment and most importantly about advanced care planning
  • Enhances communication between patient, family and all physicians
  • Helps patient to make clear and achievable goals for treatment and care
  • Improves survival by advising the use of mechanical ventilation and artificial feeding and hydration procedures
  • Facilitates best possible quality of life during and after the treatment