How Physical Therapy Can Help Patients With ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease that typically begins in the hands, feet, and extremities, then progress centrally. People may first discover that they have difficulty walking, and may trip or experience poor balance.  In addition, people may notice that they have weakness in their hands or legs, along with occasional muscle cramps.

As the disease progresses, it affects walking, use of the arms, speaking, swallowing, and breathing muscles. While there is no cure for ALS, maintaining independence and function as long as possible is the goal of our rehabilitation team. Safety with walking and adaptation of assistive devices is critical to prevent secondary complications, such as fractures from falls.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ALS, you are not alone. At Therapy Choice, we provide the highest quality treatment for each patient’s needs, so function and independence can be maintained for as long as possible. 

How can physical therapy help patients living with ALS?

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy typically coordinate as a team for people with ALS, depending on the severity of symptoms and progression of the disease. Physical therapy focuses on improving and maintaining range of motion, strength, stamina, walking, and balance. In addition, our physical therapists will focus on making recommendations for adaptive equipment, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, braces, and other devices. The goal of physical therapy is to maintain safety with walking and independence for as long as possible. 

Occupational therapists focus on helping ALS patients with their upper extremity use, working on strength, stamina, range of motion, and function. Recommendations for adaptive equipment with grasping, reaching, and writing are also part of occupational therapy care. Advice on training and adaptation of daily living activities will also be provided, such as dressing, eating, cooking, and work, to be modified when needed.

Depending on the progression of the disease, speech therapy may also be necessary. Speech therapists focus on the muscles of the throat, mouth, and tongue, as well as breathing. All this can help maintain safety with eating and drinking, in addition to improving the ability to communicate. Speech therapy also focuses on making adaptations for speech, communicating, eating, and drinking, when needed.

Contact Therapy Choice to get started:

Although ALS is a progressive disease, the use of physical, occupational, and speech therapy can make a big difference in increasing quality of life, by making sure that independence and function are maintained for as long as possible.

If you or a loved one have been struggling with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Therapy Choice in Philadelphia, PA, can help provide you with some optimism and effective results. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physical therapists and find out which specialized methods will best fit your needs.

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