ST. LOUIS – SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital offers a team approach to care for patients diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells, the brain, and the spinal cord. While it does not usually affect a person’s mind or senses, it does affect their ability to use muscles, restricting movement of the limbs and body, including the muscles required for swallowing and breathing.

SLU Hospital offers the only ALS Association-certified clinic in St. Louis. This multi-disciplinary clinic brings together the total team of physician specialists and nurses to coordinate multiple services to treat patients with ALS, while also conducting research and clinical trials in an effort to find a cure.

“These clinics should be an essential part of the ALS patient’s care because studies have shown (that patients in) multidisciplinary clinics lived longer,” said Dr. Ghazala Hayat, a SLUCare neurologist and director of the ALS Center at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

Hayat notes that the reason a multidisciplinary clinic extends the life of the patient is because of the coordinated care. There is no cure for ALS, but there is a team of specialists who can support and treat the patient.

“Now, we have three medications which are FDA approved for patients who have ALS,” Hayat said

The ALS clinic brings together all the medical experts and specialists to address a patient’s needs in a coordinated effort. It reduces the number of appointments for the patient and creates a more efficient way to treat the individual’s needs, inclusive of respiratory, neurology, pulmonology, psychology, physical therapy, and more.

“Some patients have a slow progression. about three to five years is the survival. So multidisciplinary care actually adds to their, they say improved survival and also their quality of life.,” Ghazala said. “At the end of the day, all of the specialists have sat around the table to give the best care. The patients are always very happy and satisfied.”

Following the visit, the patient has complete recommendations on treatment and is in continuous communication with the ALS nurse or coordinator regarding their needs.

To learn more about the ALS Clinic, click here.

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