Neurologist: The neurology ALS specialty physician diagnoses, assesses and treats symptoms of disease progression and addresses all concerns and questions of the patient, caregivers and family members. The neurologist is the team leader overseeing each individual patient's comprehensive care plan.
ALS Nurse: The ALS nurse coordinates the care during the visit and manages the patient's needs outside the clinic such as specialty referrals, home care, durable medical equipment needs, transportation, and hospice care.
Speech-Language Pathologist: The speech-language pathologist evaluates and treats patient symptoms related to speech, swallowing, and communication. The speech-language pathologist assists patients and their families with augmentative speech training using assistive devices.
Nutritionist: A registered dietitian completes a nutritional assessment for each patient and makes recommendations according to the patient's individual needs. The nutritionist counsels patients and their caregivers regarding diet modifications to accommodate nutritional needs and swallowing difficulties.
Occupational Therapist: The occupational therapist provides a thorough assessment of the patient's fine motor skills and function, developing a plan of care to improve the patient's activities of daily living (ADL), upper extremity function and range of motion. The occupational therapist makes recommendations for adaptive equipment and often is able to provide these items along with adaptive techniques to patients and their caregivers at the clinic visit.
Physical Therapist: The physical therapist evaluates the strength, range of motion, flexibility, and mobility of the patient's lower extremities. Recommendations are then made to assist the patient in maintaining independence and mobility. The physical therapist may provide the patient needed equipment, such as a neck support, brace or collar; an ankle-foot orthotic; a cane or walker.
The physical therapist works with each patient's caregivers to instruct them in transfer techniques, gait training assistance, range of motion and flexibility exercises according to the patient's individual needs. Recommendations are made for customized equipment such as manual or power wheelchairs and durable medical equipment.
Social Worker: The social worker provides supportive care to ALS patients and their families including counseling, community resource information and referrals, assistance with obtaining benefits, educational materials, and assessing for home care needs. The social worker in the multidisciplinary ALS clinic at Henry Ford is also on staff at ALS of Michigan and serves as a liaison between patients and their families and the association.
Psychologist: Patients also have the option of seeing a psychologist who is available to them for counseling, coping strategies, support and neuropsychological evaluation for patients whose disease process may include elements of dementia.
Other Assessments: Patients are assessed at each visit for pulmonary function by modified spirometry. Negative inspiratory force measurement and oxygen saturation are performed if indicated. Patient referral to a pulmonologist for complete evaluation is made as needed and necessary interventions are prescribed. Patients who exhibit dysphagia or whose nutritional needs cannot be met by oral intake are referred to a gastroenterologist for possible Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement, should they desire this intervention. Appointments are always given in a timely manner to better accommodate our patients' special needs. All home care and supplies are coordinated by the ALS clinical nurse coordinator.