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ALS Expert Mary Sedarous Discusses Symptom Management

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017
Mary Sedarous, M.D.


Mary Sedarous, M.D., is a neurologist and a neuromuscular physician who serves as the Medical Director of the ALS Clinic at Hackensack Meridian Hospital in New Jersey, and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Student Site Director for Neurology Clerkship at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

In this video, she discusses management of common ALS symptoms, including salivation and upper-motorneuron symtpoms, how physical and occupational therapies can help as much as medication, and how proper treatment can slow the progression of the disease.

Sedarous: The symptoms that occur in ALS are variables. For example, increased salivation is a common one. Usually, there are a number of drugs that we can use to decrease the salivation that can result in choking episodes. Another one is cramps. Very commonly, spasms and spasticity in patients who have, what we call "upper-motorneuron symptoms," which is one aspect of the disease. These are all things that we deal with and use drugs for to manage the symptoms.

Not only drugs, but physical therapy and occupational therapy play an important role in managing patients with those symptoms. From a breathing standpoint, it's very important to detect early on when the muscles of the breathing get affected. A typical ALS patient will start having respiratory decline before they even appreciate the symptoms are even there. It is our job to have early detection of this because research shows that early intervention with a machine that helps them to breathe can actually slow down the progression of the decline.

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