Frequently called Lou Gherig’s Disease, ALS drains patients of their ability to move.
“ALS is basically a progressive, degenerative disorder of the motor nerves. What people end up with is a degeneration of the nerves that go through the skeletal muscles. Basically a wasting away of the muscles in the body,” says Dr. Nima Mowzoon, a neurologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
The disease is fatal. There are no long-term treatments either, and as patients become less mobile, the services they need are harder to get.
“We are very fortunate to have this beautiful new building with spacious rooms, big enough for the patient and family members all to join in,” says Carol Emmick, coordinator for Lee Memorial Health System’s ALS clinic.
Southwest Florida took a giant step forward in helping boost the quality of life for people with ALS when it opened the area’s only ALS clinic. It provides a single location where service providers come to patients.
“They would have to go to a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, respiratory therapist, dietician and then social service would visit them. So what we do with the clinic is we put all of the service together in one room,” says Dr. Mowzoon.
In a world filled with ‘No’ or ‘Can’t do’, the clinic is a hopeful haven. Solution based, people are more likely to hear ‘how can we help?’
“If they’re having a hard time eating, then we will assess them and make sure that they get the utensils to improve their eating. If they need a motorized wheelchair, then we have the ability to get that for them,” says Emmick.
The clinic requires pre-registration and is held the second Saturday of each month. With its emphasis on quality of life, there is an added benefit. The feeling no one is going through this disease alone.
“First time ALS patient, newly diagnosed, they’re very scared, they have a lot questions and coming in here and seeing friendly people helps them ease their fears,” says Emmick.