Therapies & Care
There is not yet a cure for ALS, but there are ways to help mitigate and manage the symptoms. Here are some therapies that might be helpful.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical therapy (PT) is the use of exercises and treatments to improve physical movement and overall mobility. Occupational therapy (OT) is similar but is focused on developing or maintaining the physical skills needed to perform everyday tasks. For example, a physical therapist might prescribe stretching exercises to limit discomfort and preserve range of motion or use pool therapy to help you walk and improve joint function. An occupational therapist may help you find new ways to brush your teeth or recommend equipment that can make your activities of daily living easier to perform.
For ALS patients with bulbar symptoms, a speech-language pathologist can help with both speaking and swallowing difficulties. This may include finding devices to help you communicate as your speech becomes harder for others to understand.
A respiratory therapist can teach you new techniques for breathing and coughing, helping you keep your airway and lungs clear and healthy. When mechanical ventilators are needed, they can help you evaluate the options and choose the best ventilator for your needs.
It’s not unusual to feel depressed or anxious after being diagnosed with ALS. If you have difficulty coping with the mental and emotional side of ALS, a counselor or psychiatrist can help.
There are a number of medications that can help treat the various symptoms of ALS and new drugs are being developed all the time. Talk with your doctor or therapist to find out what is currently available and whether any such medications might be right for you.