The University of Michigan’s ALS physicians continue their drive to educate the community about everything U-M is doing to combat the devastating disease.
The Latest: ALS Clinic Director Stephen A. Goutman, M.D., went to Chelsea on May 12 to deliver a lecture titled “The history and causes of ALS, and University of Michigan’s role in unraveling this mystery.” The lecture was presented in honor of the late Pam Radcliffe, by the Adult Learners Institute of Chelsea.
Ms. Radcliffe was assistant director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce, and after retirement became a founding member of the Adult Learners Institute. She died of ALS in 2015.
“The presentation was excellent,” said Dick Dice, who was Ms. Radcliffe’s life partner. “The message was that even currently nothing can be done to treat ALS, there’s plenty being done to get out ahead of it in a lot of exciting ways. I don’t think people were aware of all that is being done.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, usually strikes people in midlife and is relentlessly progressive, typically resulting in death within five years of the first sign of symptoms. Patients lose the ability to control their limbs, facial muscles, swallowing, and eventually, the ability to breathe. While the causes of ALS are largely unknown, most cases likely arise through a combination of genetic factors and environmental stress.
“It was a tremendous honor to be able to give this memorial lecture, especially to a group that Ms. Radcliffe care so much about,” Dr. Goutman said. “I want people to understand that the University of Michigan has a broad array of dedicated researchers and medical professionals focused not only on finding a cure for ALS, but also on helping our patients function comfortably. Our clinical care and research facilities are world class, and we’re here every day giving our patients better ways to fight this disease. And it was really exciting to be able to share our latest research associating environmental toxins and the risk of ALS.”
The University of Michigan’s Comprehensive ALS Clinic is an ALS Association Certified Center of Excellence, which means it is recognized as the best in the field with regard to knowledge of and experience with ALS. The clinic employs a multidisciplinary team approach that includes respiratory, physical, occupational and speech therapy, in addition to nutrition services, social work, genetic counseling and assistive devices. This broad approach allows patients to access all the services they need without making multiple visits.
In addition, U-M ALS Clinic patients participate in studies at one of the nation’s premier medical research facilities. U-M researchers are investigating the effectiveness of stem cells in restoring the health of nerve cells, the role of environmental chemicals in ALS, how the human immune system responds to ALS, how ALS and dementia are related, how genes malfunction and cause disease, and how advanced imaging techniques such as MRI can detect molecular changes in ALS.