PT on the Net Research

Lou Gehrig Disease


I have an ALS client in the early stages. What is the proper training protocol for her? She is about 62 years and very fit and active, a real fighter. Thanks for any insight.


Due to the severity of this illness, it is very important to fully understand the nature of this disease. ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig Disease or Charcot’s syndrome, is a motor neuron disease marked by progressive degeneration of the neurons that give rise to corticospinal tract and of the motor cells of the brain stem and spinal cord, resulting in a deficit of upper and lower motor neuron. It usually ends fatally within two to three years.

Due to the inevitable outcome of this illness, helping your client to function better for the remainder of her existence will be a marked success for your client, as well as yourself. Individual definitions of function vary. Therefore, you should create a training program that will fortify her life activities. Exercise will not only help to physically increase her quality of life, but it will hopefully help her to emotionally cope better with her disease.

Basically, there is not a specific protocol for a client with ALS. However, designing a program that will increase her function is recommended. Just be aware of the emotional hardships that she may express to you and try to prepare yourself for her “ups and downs.” It is a difficult situation. Best of luck to both of you.