Treatment of ALS
Medications, speech therapy, and physical therapy are different aspects of ALS treatment, which is designed to relieve symptoms, improve the quality of life, and keep people as mobile and comfortable as possible. Although it is not a cure, riluzole was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment.
Scientists have not found a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug treatment for ALS, which is called riluzole.
Riluzole is believed to:
- Reduce damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate
- Prolong survival by several months (mainly in those with difficulty swallowing)
- Extend the time before a person needs ventilation support.
Riluzole does not reverse the damage that has already occurred to the motor neurons, and people taking it must be monitored for liver damage and other possible side effects.
Other ALS treatments are designed to relieve symptoms and improve a person's quality of life. Multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals are available to provide supportive care, including:
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapists
- Social workers
- Home care and hospice nurses.
These teams can design an individualized ALS treatment plan of medical and physical therapy, and provide special equipment aimed at keeping people as mobile and comfortable as possible.