ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Norton Neuroscience Institute is the leading provider of neurological care in Louisville and Southern Indiana, with specialists providing advanced care for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a progressive motor neuron disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Progressive degeneration of the motor neurons causes them to die, and the brain loses its connection to muscles. The result is a lack of muscle control. This “disconnection” then causes the muscle to lose neuron nourishment and stimulation, resulting in muscle atrophy.

There is no cure for ALS, but care from a range of medical specialties focused on your case can extend functionality and survival.

Extending Functionality and Survival for ALS Patients

The Norton Healthcare ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic brings together specialized neurologists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, occupational therapists and other health professionals.

The ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic also helps patients with primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). Directed by Mark P. Bazant, M.D., neurologist with Norton Neurology Services specializing in ALS, the clinic provides supportive care as well as medication.

The clinic provides solutions that can help with breathing and swallowing. The clinic also can help with simple or high-tech solutions to help ALS patients communicate.

Many patients are able to share quality time with their families and others with the clinic’s help.

What Is ALS?

With degeneration of the motor neurons that carry signals from the brain to the spinal cord and out to the muscles, the brain loses the ability to initiate movement. That means it becomes increasingly difficult to speak, eat, move and breathe.

Only about 5% to 10% of ALS cases are inherited. In the vast majority of cases, the cause is unknown. ALS affects about five out of every 100,000 people worldwide.

ALS usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70. ALS recognition increased significantly after the disease shortened New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig’s career in 1939.

More recently, physicist Stephen Hawking lived more than 50 years after his ALS diagnosis, dying in 2018 at age 76.

ALS Diagnosis

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Neuroscience Institute have the experience to diagnose ALS.

There is no single test or procedure to diagnose ALS. Experienced specialists, however can rule out other diseases that mimic ALS to make an accurate diagnosis.

A physical exam usually includes an extensive strength and endurance exam. A patient with ALS may have an abnormal gait. Reflexes are often abnormal in that they will be increased at the joint and reduced in the gag reflex. Some patients may have trouble controlling episodes of crying or laughing, often called “emotional incontinence.”

Your physician will conduct diagnostic tests to pinpoint your condition. Tests may include:

  • Neurological exam
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV)
  • Blood and urine studies
  • Spinal tap
  • X-rays, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Myelogram of the cervical spine
  • Muscle and/or nerve biopsy

ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic

Norton Cancer Institute – Downtown
676 S. Floyd St.
Louisville, Kentucky

Care That’s Focused on You

It’s part of Norton Neuroscience Institute’s goal to care for the whole person, not just the condition.

  • Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centers offer ways to improve your access to care, provide valuable information on managing your disease and address your quality of life issues. The Norton Healthcare Foundation funds this important service, so patients don’t need to pay.
  • Dedicated patient navigators can help schedule follow-up appointments, coordinate prescription assistance, create customized diet plans and provide guidance on disability benefits, housing, financial and employment concerns and more.
  • Patients can access support groups, exercise classes and other educational events to connect with others and learn how to make the most of life while managing a neurological condition. 
  • Access an on-demand video library of educational content across a variety of condition-related topics is available.
  • We want to help prevent illness. Get help quitting smoking and learn the signs of stroke.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free Norton MyChart account.

A Louisville Leader in Neurological Care

More patients from Louisville and Southern Indiana seek their neurology and neurosurgery care from Norton Neuroscience Institute’s nationally recognized specialists than any other providers in the area.

Your Norton Neuroscience Institute medical provider has the expertise, experience, diagnostic tools and sophisticated treatments to provide care tailored to your needs.

  • More than 75 medical, surgical and research specialists are dedicated to providing innovative care to those with brain, spine and nervous system conditions.
  • Advanced, minimally invasive neurosurgery equipment can speed your recovery and minimize pain.
  • Multidisciplinary clinics provide easy access to care in one convenient appointment for your neurological condition, with specialists in oncology, cardiology, orthopedics and behavioral health.
  • Norton Healthcare’s four adult-service hospitals in Louisville are certified by DNV, recognizing excellence and expertise in stroke care.
    • Norton Brownsboro Hospital is recognized as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.
    • Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital are Primary Stroke Centers.
    • Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital is an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute is at the forefront of neuroscientific research. As investigators on numerous trials, our physicians contribute to groundbreaking studies and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Also, patients may be eligible to take part in these experimental treatments.
    Learn more about current neuroscience clinical trials and studies.
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  • The American Heart Association Get With the Guidelines stroke care program has recognized all four of Norton Healthcare’s adult service-hospitals in Louisville for exceeding national averages in getting patients in the door and administering lifesaving treatment to restore blood flow to the brain.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute’s multiple sclerosis (MS) program has been designated a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  • The National Association of Epilepsy Centers has recognized Norton Neuroscience Institute as a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, providing the highest level of medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center navigators help educate patients and their families about new diagnoses, available treatments and ways to manage their disease.
  • We are listed by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of 100 great neurosurgery and spine programs.

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