ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Treatment Abroad

ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) - Chronic Diseases

ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease Treatment Abroad

ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Treatment Abroad



Discovered by a French doctor Jean-Martin Charcot in 1869, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the transmission of information through the neurons from the brain to the muscles. It does this by destroying the very nerves which conduct this information to the muscles. Since the muscles basically perform all the movement (including breathing) of the body, the disease is very dangerous and has high mortality rates. It is also called the Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player from the 1930s who was diagnosed with it.

The main problem with the ALS is that, while its progression can be slowed down, there is really no cure which will stop the progression of the disease and completely reverse the symptoms. However, like we said, its progression can be slowed down, giving the patients more time and hope that the cure might be eventually found, while improving their way of life with ALS.

Causes of ALS

The definitive cause or causes of the ALS are still unknown to doctors and scientists, although, given the evidence and case studies, the scientists are narrowing down a few causes that might increase the risk of getting ALS. All we know is that in about 5-10% of the cases the disease is inherited through one or both parents. For the remaining 90-95%, while they do know for sure, the scientists have a few ideas as to where they might come from:

  • Chemical imbalance – It is reported that people with ALS usually have higher-than-usual levels of a chemical called Glutamate, which serves as a messenger in the brain. This chemical builds up in the spinal fluid around the cells. While it is used for sending information in the brain, it is known that this chemical, when too heavily concentrated around the cells, can be toxic to them and cause their destruction.
  • Problems with the immune system – It is not uncommon for the body’s own immune system to start attacking its own cells for some reason. There are many autoimmune diseases out there, and it might be possible that the immune system might be a cause of ALS, where the immune system starts attacking and destroying the nerve cells in the brain and around the spine.
  • Mitochondria problems – In some cases, the mitochondria parts of the cells, which are used to make energy for the cell to keep operating, develop a problem and are not as efficient. This can either be one of the causes of ALS or it might make the existing problem worse.
  • Protein mishandling – The nerve cells might have a problem with mishandling proteins, which can cause protein to accumulate in the cell, destroying it in the process.

There are also some factors which seemingly increase the risk of developing ALS:

  • Heredity – In 5-10% of cases, the disease was inherited. Children of people with ALS have a 50-50 chance of developing it.
  • Age – Most commonly, ALS triggers between the ages of 40 through 60.
  • Sex – Slightly more men develop this disease than women. However, after 70 years of age, this difference disappears.
  • Smoking – Smoking is the environmental factor which increases the risk of developing ALS. It is especially risky for women who smoke after menopause.
  • Military service – While it is not known why, there has been an increase in ALS cases in people who have served in the military, especially after the Gulf War.

Symptoms of ALS

The symptoms of ALS get progressively worse as the time with the disease passes. Early symptoms of this disease include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty performing everyday activities
  • Tripping and falling
  • Leg, feet and ankles weakness
  • Clumsiness and hand weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty holding one’s head up
  • Difficulty in keeping straight posture

In essence, once the ALS starts, the muscles in the body receive less and less signals to activate. As they become less active, they atrophy over time, meaning they no longer work and you the control over them. The biggest problem is that, as ALS progresses, more and more muscles are affected, until it affects the diaphragm muscles, which facilitate breathing movement. At this point, it becomes difficult for the patient to breathe and they have to be put on life-support machines for breathing.

How is it treated?

As we have said, so far, the ALS is incurable and scientists are yet to discover a treatment that will fully reverse all the symptoms. However, there are some treatments, like the stem cell treatment, which show great potential as a possible cure (although it might be a bit too soon to speak of a cure), while there are others which help relieve the symptoms, if not completely remove them. These treatments include:

  • medications (to slow the progression and/or help with the symptoms);
  • breathing care (for when the diaphragm muscles are affected);
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy.

When it comes to stem cell therapy, there are programs available now which are working with the potential of the mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which are known to secrete proteins which support the growth of nerve cells and neurons. These cells also exert a controlling influence on the immune system, which can further prevent the damage to the already healthy nerve cells. These cells have high probability of being the future of ALS treatment, at least until a more definitive cure is found.

The procedure is done by extracting the MSCs from the patient’s fat cells, and then injecting them into the nervous system through a series of injections. In some clinics, this is combined with alternative medicine (such as Chinese Herbal Medicine) to increase the effects.

The benefits of treating ALS

  • Reversal of symptoms
  • Regaining control over the muscles
  • Delaying the progression of the disease
  • Delaying the loss of diaphragm muscles’ control
  • Longer and more stable life

The cost of Treatments for ALS

The cost of the treatment is far from standardized, especially for the stem cell treatment. On average, the cost of the stem cell treatment around the world is $20,000, although the prices vary greatly from one country to another, due to the differences in medical costs and overall costs of living in different countries. 

The cost of other treatments for ALS depends on the approach used, as well as the type of medication.  A month's supply of Rilutek may cost an average of $600 to $700 a month.  The cost for physical therapy depends on the facility offering such services, as well as the amount of time spent on therapeutic service. Neuromuscular re-education therapeutic services may range between $100 to $400 per hour. All those prices can vary greatly in different countries, depending on the standard of living and the country's healthcare system.

Choosing the right clinic and treatment 

Treatment for ALS around the world is available at quite a few clinics. However, before booking a treatment in any of them, it is vital that you get acquainted with each of them and verify which one offers the highest rates of success. This can be done by checking the clinics, seeing for how long they have provided this treatment, as well as reading up on patient testimonials and thorough checking whether the doctor performing the treatment has had any experience with ALS treatments in general. This will help you make a more informed decision and see whether you should get your hopes up.

If you are already suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and want to know how going abroad can help you, feel free to contact us and find out more.


Chronic Diseases - Chronic Diseases, PlacidWay, Chronic diseases are considered those that last for months or years and affect millions of people on a yearly basis, costing billions of dollars in health care costs as well as untold pain and suffering. Fortunately, a large majority of chronic disease processes are preventable and education is the key in reducing the number of individuals suffering such long-term conditions and disease processes.