Improving ALS Management

Andrea Rodgers

February 15, 2022

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a debilitating disease that affects motor nerve cells, eventually causing symptoms such as muscle weakness and paralysis. As many as 30,000 Americans live with ALS, and according to the ALS Association, every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS and someone passes away from ALS. 

Providing treatment for those with ALS and finding a cure through research are priorities at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Expanded Access to ALS Care

In June 2021, Hackensack University Medical Center opened a dedicated ALS Center in its Neuroscience Institute. Hackensack Meridian Health also offers the ALS Center at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. 

The ALS Center at Hackensack leverages the hospital’s strengths as an academic medical center, providing space for physicians, neuroscience researchers and many other medical professionals to collaborate and study the disease.

“We’ve put together a highly specialized team of experts for the ALS Center,” says neurologist Florian Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the ALS Center and professor and founding chair of the Department of Neurology, Hackensack University Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “These are people not only with expertise in treating and researching ALS, but with a dedication to working together as a team to improve patient quality of life and provide each patient with a comprehensive treatment plan.”

“Taking a comprehensive approach, the treatment philosophy at our ALS Centers recognizes that ALS and other forms of motor neuron diseases dramatically affect patients’ and their families’ lives,” says Mary Sedarous, M.D., neuromuscular medicine specialist and director of the ALS Center at Jersey Shore. The ALS Center at Hackensack was created in collaboration with the ALS Association, to ensure patients receive the support, services and assistive devices they need to optimize their independence.

Research Breakthrough

Both ALS Centers perform research surrounding ALS, and recently four clinicians from Hackensack participated in research that led to the discovery of a new and unique form of juvenile ALS.

“This newly discovered form of ALS begins in childhood,” says Dr. Sedarous. “While more research is needed, it has been found that suppression of a particular gene may be an effective treatment for this unique type of ALS. The study also has implications beyond this type of ALS because it offers new information that may help research for other types of ALS.”

Discoveries like this are why the ALS Centers at Hackensack and Jersey Shore exist. Pushing medicine forward is a priority throughout the network.

Next Steps & Resources

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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