It has been an eventful past year for the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) community. With the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” skyrocketing on social media and the Hollywood movie “The Theory of Everything” focusing on Stephen Hawking’s incredible life with ALS, more people are aware of the disease and how heartbreaking it is for affected patients and their families.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a condition characterized by motor neuron cell death in the body. While the disease has a gradual onset, it progresses to eventual muscle wasting and results in difficulty walking, speaking, swallowing, and breathing. Now, a Michigan-based hospital is connecting ALS patients living in rural areas with physicians in the hospital. Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo has developed a group of technology products and applications that allow healthcare providers to connect with one another remotely, as well as provide live consultations to patients.
“ALS patients and their caregivers face the unique challenge of having to travel to several specialists to receive all of the care that is required to combat the full-body, degenerative nature of the disease,” explained Paula Morning, executive director of the ALS Association Michigan Chapter. “Telemedicine allows the ALS patient a unique opportunity to become educated about their disease and receive uncompromised care through face-to-face interaction with experts across all domains of care.”
Hopefully other medical facilities will follow suit in delivering care to patients in their state without access to a nearby hospital. ALS is only one of many medical conditions that benefits from telemedicine; a remote consultation with a physician can help patients cope with their condition, as well as provide support to their families.