TC serves PA and NJ only

Physical Therapy for People Living With ALS

Serving PA and NJ

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to loss of muscle control. It is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” named after the famous baseball player who was diagnosed with it in the 1930s. ALS primarily affects voluntary muscle movements, leading to symptoms such as muscle weakness, twitching, and difficulty speaking or swallowing.

The impact of ALS extends beyond the physical symptoms. Patients and their families face emotional and psychological challenges, as the disease’s progression can lead to increased dependency on caregivers and assistive devices.

The degeneration of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord leads to a loss of voluntary muscle control. Muscle atrophy is common as nerve cells lose their ability to send signals, leading to the gradual deterioration of physical functions. Physical therapy plays a role in managing symptoms and maintaining the quality of life for both patients and their families.

The Role of Physical Therapy for ALS

By working to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination, therapy can delay the onset of muscle atrophy and help patients retain mobility.

Types of Interventions:

  • Strengthening Exercises: Low-impact exercises, such as resistance band training or light weights, can help ALS patients maintain muscle strength. These exercises are tailored to the patient’s abilities and designed to avoid overexertion.
  • Range of Motion Exercises: Stretching and flexibility exercises can prevent stiffness and muscle shortening, maintaining the patient’s range of motion. This can improve comfort and reduce the risk of joint-related complications.
  • Balance and Coordination: Physical therapy can include techniques to manage balance issues, such as stabilizing exercises or practicing walking on different surfaces. This can help prevent falls and improve confidence in everyday movements.
  • Adaptive Techniques: Therapists can also teach patients how to use assistive devices, such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, to maintain independence as long as possible. They may also demonstrate ways to simplify everyday tasks, such as using specialized eating utensils or dressing aids.

Physical therapy for ALS patients requires individualized approaches. Each patient’s symptoms and progression are unique, necessitating a personalized treatment plan. This plan evolves over time, adapting to changing needs and maintaining the patient’s functionality.

Goals of Therapy: The primary goals of physical therapy are to maintain the patient’s independence as long as possible, reduce pain, and improve comfort. Therapists focus on sustaining motor functions, managing symptoms, and providing coping mechanisms to improve daily living.

Support and Education: Physical therapists often educate patients and caregivers about managing ALS symptoms at home. They offer guidance on exercises, assistive devices, and techniques to prevent complications. This support helps empower both patients and families, ensuring they have the necessary tools to navigate the challenges posed by ALS.

Therapy Choice Services for Residents in PA and NJ

While there is no cure for ALS, the rehabilitation team at Therapy Choice aims to maintain independence and function as long as possible.

Therapy Choice offers comprehensive therapy services:

  • Physical Therapy: Focuses on improving and maintaining range of motion, strength, stamina, walking, and balance. Physical therapists also make recommendations for adaptive equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, braces, and other devices to maintain safety and independence.
  • Occupational Therapy: Helps ALS patients with upper extremity use by working on strength, stamina, range of motion, and function. Occupational therapists recommend adaptive equipment for grasping, reaching, writing, and modifying daily living activities such as dressing, eating, cooking, and working.
  • Speech Therapy: Works in coordination with the other therapies, focusing on maintaining or improving speech and swallowing functions, depending on the progression of the disease.

To learn more about Therapy Choice services for those with ALS or to schedule a consultation, please call 215-743-1060 or fill out the contact form on this page. Our team is here to provide comprehensive care and support, ensuring patients can maintain their quality of life for as long as possible.