Ohio State’s ALS/MND Clinic sees all major categories of neuromuscular disease. Our experience helps ensure that if you have an uncommon or complicated condition, we can provide the answers and the care you need.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles — the ones you can control, like those in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice:

  • Trouble walking or running
  • Trouble writing
  • Speech problems

Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS eventually die from respiratory failure.

ALS usually strikes between ages 40 and 60; however, it can occur in very young and very old individuals. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it occurs at random. At this time, there is no cure. However, there are therapies that can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival.

Source: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Why choose Ohio State for treatment of ALS?

Team Approach to Care: The ALS/Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has a team of experts dedicated to diagnosing and managing your ALS:

  • Neurologists with fellowship training in neuromuscular disorders
  • Genetic counselors
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Nutrition therapists
  • Social workers

Diagnostic Expertise: Our ALS/MND Clinic has nine neurologists board-certified and fellowship-trained in a large range of neuromuscular diseases.

As one of the largest neuromuscular centers in the country, we see all major categories of neuromuscular disease. Our experience helps ensure that if you have an uncommon or complicated condition, we can provide the answers and the care you need.

Experience: Ohio State manages the care of more than 200 people with ALS and has cared for thousands since the opening of our ALS/Motor Neuron Disease Clinic in the mid-1990s. We know what people with ALS and their families need at various stages of the disease and how we can best serve you at this critical time.

Research: Our ALS/Motor Neuron Disease Clinic gives you access to cutting-edge basic science research (studies meant to increase our knowledge base about how things work) and clinical trials for ALS and related motor neuron diseases that are available at only a handful of centers across the country. In addition, our integration with national research and clinical trial programs provides us with access to further knowledge and expertise in treating unusual and difficult symptoms.



Diagnosis

Diagnosing ALS

Our fellowship-trained neurologists at our ALS/Motor Neuron Disease Clinic are recognized worldwide for our ability to recognize and diagnose the most complex ALS cases and related motor neuron diseases. Our physician-scientists relentlessly pursue answers to explain what is happening to you.

Your physician will determine which diagnostic tests are necessary to gain a complete understanding of your condition. In addition to a thorough medical history and physical exam, our physicians may perform electrodiagnostic tests, tests for other motor neuron disease syndromes and tests to rule out alternative diagnoses. We may recommend genetic testing, as well.

Genetic counseling: Only five to 10 percent of people with ALS also have a family member who has the disease. Our clinic features a genetic counselor who can review the family history of each person with ALS and offer genetic counseling for people with a positive family history. We understand the genetic basis of most inherited types of ALS, and we are working to offer therapeutic trials for people with a specific genetic form of ALS.

Management

Managing ALS

ALS is a complex disease, with no proven treatments. It requires lifelong symptom management by teams of professionals working hand-in-hand. Ohio State’s ALS/Motor Neuron Disease team integrates the expertise of our neuromuscular physicians and therapists to develop a personalized plan for your care to prolong the quality of your life and to provide emotional support for you and your family.

Our expertise and experience help us anticipate your needs and determine next steps throughout the course of your disease. Managing ALS depends on your age, the extent of your disease, your tolerance for treatment and your personal wishes. Medications, procedures and devices can help with symptom management and will be tailored to your particular circumstances.  

One of our strengths is our range of therapies provided by experienced staff who work exclusively with neuromuscular diseases such as ALS:

Physical Therapy

Following a thorough assessment, our physical therapist customizes a plan that addresses:

  • Maintenance or improvement of muscle strength and joint flexibility
  • Energy conservation and fatigue reduction
  • Equipment or adaptations in the home
  • Minimizing pain due to muscle cramping or spasticity, overstretched or contracted muscles and body positioning or pressure
  • Home exercises
  • Safe and efficient transfer techniques as you are moved from one place to another
  • Prevention of complications, such as shoulder and neck problems and falls

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps you learn adaptive techniques for everyday tasks. Through our Assistive Technology Center, we provide you with resources and equipment, such as wheelchair and communication devices, as well as wheelchair and seating evaluations. We provide solutions to changes in daily living activities. We also work directly with mobility equipment specialists and rehab engineers to assist you with optimal use and comfort of wheelchairs and other assistive devices.

Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapy is overseen by central Ohio’s only respiratory therapist dedicated solely to neurological diseases. Therapists monitor breathing capacity and oxygen intake. As you have increasing difficulty with breathing, our therapists provide exercise and other tools for better breathing.

Many patients eventually require breathing support with a ventilator. Ohio State was the first multidisciplinary clinic in Ohio and one of only 30 ALS clinics in the United States to offer patients the implantable NeuRx DPS (diaphragmatic pacing system) device. NeuRx helps a person breathe more easily by electrically stimulating the nerve that causes the diaphragm – the large muscle at the base of the rib cage — to contract. As the diaphragm contracts, it allows the lungs to expand so you can take in air. The device is implanted during minimally invasive surgery.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy matches you one-on-one with a therapist who evaluates and treats speech, language, cognition and swallowing disorders associated with ALS.

Research

Research

Clinical Trials

Ohio State initiates clinical trials, participates in trials collaboratively with other institutions (including Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus on genetics clinical trials) and networks with other centers around the world to offer you the most effective treatment.

We are a member of the National Institutes of Health’s NeuroNEXT: Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials.This collaboration results in more promising treatments, more rapidly, providing patients like you more hope.

We also are a member of the Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS), which provides you with access to clinical trials not available at surrounding regional medical centers. Our membership connects us to other NEALS researchers regarding disease progression and the best ways to address unusual or persistent problems.

Enroll in a clinical trial

Basic Science Research

Our researchers work in the laboratory to discover answers to basic questions about how ALS works. At Ohio State, you have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge basic science research that can shed light on your own disease, as well as help others.

Individualized models of disease studies: Our researchers take your skin cells and turn them into a type of stem cell to reproduce your exact ALS condition in the laboratory. We then study the models to look for causes and develop therapies on a case-by-case basis. This research is first step in developing personalized model systems so we can discover personalized treatments for ALS.

Motor neuron disease research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center begins and ends with people with ALS. Physicians and scientists throughout Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital work together to discover and test new therapies and technologies that ultimately change and improve our ability to manage and effectively treat people with ALS.

Our Doctors

Additional Information

Please bring to your first appointment all records, written reports and lab results from neurologists or referring physicians, as well as a CD of MRI and other imaging results. Also prepare a written family history of neurological diseases for our discussion during your visit.

Preparing for your visit

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