At present, there’s no single test for determining if a person has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Instead, diagnosing the disease is a process of elimination. Doctors perform multiple tests to rule out other conditions that could be causing the symptoms. Unfortunately, this means that people do not receive a diagnosis until the disease has progressed to a point where the symptoms interfere with their lives. It can also lead to the occasional misdiagnosis. The good news is that scientists continue to study the disease in hopes of learning more about it, which could one day lead to a test, better treatment, or even a cure. Recently, one study offered promising results that a test for diagnosing ALS may be on the horizon.
About the Study
To perform the research, scientists examined tissue samples of motor neurons and other cells from the spinal cords of individuals who had died from ALS as well as some from people who didn’t have a neurodegenerative disease. They determined that types of motor neurons people with ALS had were different from those found in samples from people without ALS.
Discovering these unique cell types could give scientists a biological marker to target in trying to develop a diagnostic test for ALS. It may even be useful in developing new treatments or a cure.
How ALS is Diagnosed Today
Currently, doctors use a wide variety of tests to diagnose ALS. The objective of these tests is to find out if there might be another condition causing the symptoms. If the tests show there are no other conditions, the diagnosis is ALS. Some tests that are used to rule out other conditions are:
• Electromyogram (EMG): This test is conducted by the doctor inserting needles into various muscles to examine the electrical activity occurring in the muscles.
• Nerve Conduction Study: This test looks at how well electrical impulses are transmitted to muscles.
• MRI: An MRI provides doctors with detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord.
• Blood and Urine Tests: These are used to detect other conditions that might be present.
• Muscle Biopsy: If it’s possible the person has a muscle disease; the doctor may take a small sample of muscle tissue to be examined in a lab.
If your aging relative has been diagnosed with ALS, elder care can assist with them at home care. Elder care can help with personal care, such as getting dressed, using the bathroom, bathing, and grooming. Elder care providers can also ensure the senior is able to live life to the fullest by helping them to entertain visitors at home or taking them on outings to events and to see friends. Elder care providers can also do household tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, and making beds.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care in Faith, NC, contact the caring professionals at Tender Hearted Home Care today. Call us at (704) 207-0265.
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