By Interactive Metronome - May 13, 2015
May is ALS Awareness Month. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (colloquially Lou Gehrig’s disease), is a condition that affects thousands of people in the US alone. But ALS doesn’t just affect these people’s lives, it takes over. With a life expectancy of only 5 years from diagnosis, the disease moves quickly and leaves most prisoners in their own bodies. The mind stays sharp as the disease slowly robs victims of the ability to walk, eat, speak and breathe independently.
ALS attacks nerve cells, specifically motor neurons, which connect the brain and the spinal cord, and the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The ALS Association’s website offers a wonderful explanation of the disease through a breakdown of the name:
A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.
Many of us remember the Ice Bucket Challenge last year, and for some it was their first experience with ALS. But what now? The challenge has faded from public view while ALS continues to plague society. Now, the challenge is keeping up awareness for the disease. Although ALS patients have almost as few options as Lou Gehrig had when he was diagnosed back in 1939, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
While researchers scramble to find a cure, there has been some advancement aimed at managing the symptoms of ALS. Occupational, physical and speech therapy are all employed to keep individuals healthy, active and independent. New tools have helped these specialists create more targeted treatment plans that are designed to retrain the brain and body, using the brain’s plasticity to work around damaged areas.
Here at Interactive Metronome®, we are happy that we have been able to help some of those living with ALS. Take Larry, for example; his ALS was making daily life increasingly difficult. However, when he started IM training he regained lost function! Larry was having trouble with serious falls and had lost the ability to extend his fingers, but now he is feeding himself and performing unassisted self-care, such as grooming and dressing. Amazing! (Also, check out Larry’s ALS Awareness video here, and please help spread the word about ALS.)
While we can’t promise any sort of cure for ALS, we can help restore independence. Let IM be the tool that makes life easier for anyone with ALS, MS, Parkinson’s and many other neurological conditions that attack the brain and body. IM training can take therapy to the next level, helping to ensure that you get the most out of the hours spent in the clinic or performing tasks at home.
Visit us at www.interactivemetronome.com to find out more about Interactive Metronome® and how IM training can help clients not just manage their ALS symptoms, but regain lost function.
Looking to help those with ALS? Everyone can get involved with the ALS Association, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, ALS Therapy Development Institute, Project ALS and other great community organizations every day by donating your time, money and expertise to help fight the disease. Let’s put an end to this this tragic condition once and for all!