The life of baseball great Lou Gehrig was cut short by this aggressive and fatal degenerative disease best known by his name and affecting 30,000 Americans from all walks of life. In a fairly short time — typically two to five years from diagnosis to death — patients slowly lose the ability to walk, speak, hold a fork or swallow. ALS research is obviously aimed at finding a cure. Meanwhile, the goal of treatment centers is to keep patients alive and independent as long as possible. That requires a tremendous effort by caregivers and an array of clinicians including social workers, physiatrists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, dietitians and neurologists, to support the patients and their families. Both the centers below are actively involved in research and provide a full range of services along with access to experimental drug trials.
The ALS Association Center at Pennsylvania Hospital treats and evaluates ALS under the guidance of Leo McCluskey and is the principal charity of the Philadelphia Phillies (330 South 9th Street, 215-829-6500, pennhealth.com/neuro/als).
MDA/ALS Center of Hope is affiliated with the Drexel University College of Medicine and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Since 1984, it’s been a pioneer in the comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to treating ALS (219 North Broad Street, 215-762-5186, alshopefoundation.org).