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
  • Respiratory therapists 
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists 
  • Social workers
  • Research coordinator

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.

  • If you are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial for ALS, please contact Elizabeth Willey (Elizabeth.Willey@osumc.edu) or Sarah Heintzman, APRN-CNP (Sarah.Heintzman@osumc.edu).
  • If you are interested in learning more about our ALS basic science research, please click here.

What is ALS?

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

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.



Managing ALS

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:

Dr. Stephen Kolb, a neurologist, discusses the advancement in clinical trials and research in ALS.
Our Providers

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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