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Currently there is no cure for ALS, yet patients suffering from the disease can be made more comfortable with the following options:
- medications to relieve painful muscle cramps, excessive salivation and other symptoms.
- heat or whirlpool therapy to relieve muscle cramping.
- exercise, although recommended in moderation, may help maintain muscle strength and function. physical therapy to maintain mobility and ease the discomfort of muscle stiffness, cramps and fluid retention.
- nutritional counseling to promote good nutrition and offer other dietary options when swallowing becomes difficult.
- speech therapy and communication training to maintain as many verbal communication skills as possible. Communication training also indicates non-verbal techniques.
- devices such as splints, corrective braces, grab bars, reach-extenders, etc. to help with daily activities such as dressing, eating, using the toilet and bathing.
- special equipment such as wheelchairs, electric beds or mattresses to maximize functional independence.
Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Rilutek®, the first drug that has reliably prolonged the survival of persons with ALS. Patients, however, will not get stronger nor regain lost strength with this drug.
Managing the symptoms is a process that may be challenging for people with ALS, their care givers and the medical team, but there are many community resources available for support and assistance.