Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

  1. General information
    1. Progressive motor neuron disease, which usually leads to death in 2-6 years
    2. Onset usually between ages 40-70; affects men more than women
    3. Cause unknown
    4. There is no cure or specific treatment; death usually occurs as a result of respiratory infection secondary to respiratory insufficiency.
  2. Assessment findings
    1. Progressive weakness and atrophy of the muscles of the arms, trunk, or legs
    2. Dysarthria, dysphagia
    3. Fasciculations
    4. Respiratory insufficiency
    5. Diagnostic tests: EMG and muscle biopsy can rule out other diseases.
  3. Nursing interventions
    1. Provide nursing measures for muscle weakness and dysphagia.
    2. Promote adequate ventilatory function.
    3. Prevent complications of immobility.
    4. Encourage diversional activities; spend time with the client.
    5. Provide compassion and intensive support to client/significant others.
    6. Provide or refer for physical therapy as indicated.
    7. Promote independence for as long as possible.