More Options for Managing ALS
Physicians can prescribe medications for the treatment of ALS symptoms. These medications help to:
- Reduce fatigue
- Ease muscle cramps
- Control spasticity
- Reduce excess saliva and phlegm.
Medications are also available to help people with pain, depression, sleep disturbances, and constipation. Pharmacists can give advice on the proper use of medications and monitor a person's prescriptions to avoid the risk of drug interactions.
Treating ALS will often involve physical therapy. Physical therapy and special equipment can enhance a person's independence and safety throughout the course of ALS. Gentle, low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, and stationary bicycling, can help people:
- Strengthen unaffected muscles
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Fight fatigue and depression.
Range-of-motion and stretching exercises can help prevent painful spasticity and shortening (contracture) of muscles. Physical therapists can recommend exercises that provide these benefits without overworking muscles.
Occupational therapists can suggest devices such as ramps, braces, walkers, and wheelchairs that help people conserve energy and remain mobile.
People with ALS who have difficulty speaking may benefit from working with a speech therapist. A speech therapist can teach people adaptive strategies to help them speak louder and more clearly.
As the disease progresses, speech therapists can help people develop ways for responding to yes-or-no questions with their eyes or by other nonverbal means. They can also recommend aids such as speech synthesizers and computer-based communication systems. These methods and devices help people communicate when they can no longer speak or produce vocal sounds.