Designation highlights centers offering highest level of evidence-based quality care, services.
By Phyllis Brown, UC Davis
The UC Davis Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic has been named an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence, in acknowledgement of its meeting the highest levels of established national standards of care for the management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“We feel very fortunate and thankful to have received this designation from the ALSA,” said Nanette Joyce, assistant professor of clinical physical medicine and rehabilitation and co-director of the Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic. “We have always believed that the ALSA and particularly the Sacramento Chapter are important members of our multidisciplinary ALS team. Their efforts, both in and out of clinic, help our patients in so many meaningful ways. To have received this recognition, that binds our efforts, is breathtaking.”
Clinic leadership and representatives of the ALS Association Greater Sacramento Chapter will gather to celebrate the accomplishment during an event at the Ellison Ambulatory Care Center at UC Davis on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. The event will feature the presentation of a donation of $11,500 from the chapter.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There currently is no cure for ALS. The disorder has become more familiar to many in recent months, because of the highly successful “ice bucket challenge” campaign.
Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence must meet rigorous eligibility criteria, including diversity of professional expertise in ALS; access to coordinated, multidisciplinary care; a strong, ongoing relationship with the local ALS Association chapter; and evidence of active participation in ALS research.
The designation highlights the expertise of centers offering the highest level of evidence-based, quality care and services. The UC Davis ALS Clinic is built on four interrelated tenets:
- Correct diagnosis: ALS can appear differently in people, and there are other diseases that may initially appear similar to ALS.
- Multidisciplinary team care: Bringing together a range of specialists to create comprehensive care plans designed to help the whole person.
- Education: Educating patients, who in turn help educate physicians and therapists in training to recognize and understand the challenges of ALS.
- Research: Through research we can learn better ways of living with and treating the disease while working to develop a cure.
“We are proud to be a partner with UC Davis on this important project,” said Shawn Joost, executive director of the ALS Association Greater Sacramento Chapter. “When patients are attending the clinic, we know they are receiving the highest level of evidence-based, multidisciplinary care in a kind and supportive environment, designed to promote their independence.”
“We look forward to our continuing relationship with the clinic in service to patients and in support of the important ALS research being conducted there,” she said.
Research has shown that multidisciplinary care, or the practice of having physicians and other health care professionals collaborate to provide the most comprehensive treatment plan for patients, helps people with ALS have better quality of life and actually prolongs life in most cases. UC Davis has a long history of providing such care.
“Through research, we strive to understand ALS so that we can learn better ways of treating the disease,” said Björn Oskarsson, professor in the Department of Neurology and co-director of the clinic. “We engage ALS in many ways. In the short term, we conduct studies to figure out why ALS occurs and what makes ALS progress the way it does, to find ways of helping people live better with ALS, and to treat the disease with promising experimental therapies. In the long term, we are working to develop stem cell treatments for ALS through the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures.”