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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects the nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord. These motor neurons carry signals to the voluntary muscles that you control such as those in your arms and legs. ALS is a disease that affects mainly your functional control and often does not affect your cognitive abilities.

As your nerves stop functioning, your muscles weaken. Early symptoms are often mild and can include trouble with walking, running, writing and speaking. As more motor neurons die, the area of your spine where they are located develops scarring or hardening, called sclerosis. When these nerves can no longer send messages that make your muscles move, your symptoms worsen and your muscles begin to atrophy (lose muscle tissue).

As the disease progresses, you may experience more weakness, loss of movement, and your limbs may appear thinner. You may have trouble swallowing and breathing. Paralysis can accompany the later stages of the disease.

According to the ALS Association, ALS tends to appear between the ages of 40 and 70. In the United States, it affects about 30,000 people, with 5,600 new diagnoses each year. About 90 percent of ALS cases are sporadic, with no known cause or genetic predisposition. Between 5 and 10 percent of ALS cases are familial. This means the condition is passed from parents to their children in an autosomal dominant manner. In these families, if a parent has ALS, each of his or her children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the condition.

At Indiana University Health Neurology & Neurosurgery, we use a multidisciplinary approach to manage your symptoms, delay disease progression and keep you functioning as independently as possible. There is no known cure for ALS, but our neuromuscular specialists are internationally known for ALS management. At IU Health Neurology & Neurosurgery, we offer a weekly ALS program specializing in assisting patients with this condition.  

Our ALS clinic is a one-stop facility where you can see all of your clinicians in one location every three to four months. In partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center, our specialists include neurology, physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapists; dietitians; and social workers. You can receive braces to help with movement as well as breathing machines and communication devices, if you need them.

IU Health Neuroscience Center has recieved several accreditations and is certified as a Center of Excellence by the ALS Association, only one of its kind in Indiana. To earn this distinction, we provide proven, comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to ALS patients and their families, all in one clinic. Our services meet national standards and we offer neurological diagnostics, imaging and on-site support therapies from highly experienced physicians.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Treatment Information

We treat all types of ALS patients, whether your symptoms start with speech and swallowing issues or weakness in your limbs. ALS impacts you and your family. At IU Health our physicians and therapists deliver follow-up care between clinic visits and are always available to answer your questions.

The treatment and services we offer include:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Locations & Physicians

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Support Services

Learn more about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis treatments at these websites: