Ann Arbor, Mich. – More than 75 people attended the inaugural ALS Symposium on May 9 to hear a wide array of physicians, researchers and ALS clinic professionals share the latest information on research and care of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.
The event was hosted by the University of Michigan and co-sponsored by the ALS Association Michigan Chapter and MARCH – the Michigan ALS Research Consortium of Hospitals. MARCH consists of physicians and other health care professionals from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mercy Health in Grand Rapids and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
“It is truly a special day when ALS teams across our state pull together on behalf of ALS patients and their families,” said Stephen Goutman, MD, Director of the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive ALS Clinic. “We have an amazing team here at the University of Michigan, but we are far from alone. I appreciate everyone who participated today; each one brings a unique perspective that helps ALS patients. That is ultimately what we’re here for.”
The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Rick Bedlack of the Duke University ALS Clinic. Dr. Bedlack’s talk, “ALS Untangled,” focused on unsubstantiated claims of ALS “cures” around the world, what ALS patients should guard against, and which current research shows promise.
“You have an incredible group of clinicians, scientists, advocates, patients and families there in Michigan and I felt blessed to be part of it for the weekend,” Dr. Bedlack said.
Other presentations included those by occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, social workers, dietitians and others who work closely to give ALS patients the most comprehensive care possible. A lunch panel that answered questions about ALS from the audience included Drs. Bedlack and Goutman, in addition to Bradley Foerster, M.D. (U-M), Brian Callaghan, M.D. (U-M), Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. (U-M), Melanie Taylor, M.D. (Mercy), Ximena Arcila-Londono, M.D. (Henry Ford), Dustin Nowacek, M.D. (Bronson), and Paul Twydell, D.O. (Spectrum). From the ALS Association Michigan Chapter, Executive Director Paula Morning discussed patient advocacy, and Dr. Robert Leonard gave a presentation on hospice and palliative care.
MARCH was formed by physicians across Michigan to provide broader research participation to patients and to offer patients expert second opinions from ALS physicians closer to home. Because of MARCH, all Michigan ALS sites work closely together so patients can be seen in the nearest ALS clinic and are provided with knowledge of all the ALS research opportunities across the state of Michigan.