HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A first-of-its-kind clinic in Honolulu designed to help patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, opened Wednesday at the Kuakini Physicians Tower.
ALS Clinic of Hawaii aims to collectively bring multiple types of specialized care – including neurology, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and others – into one place to provide optimal medical support for those with ALS, also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.
"We do have all of these resources available currently in the community, but what we've seen is the coordinated and efficient administration of this type of care in a specialized, multi-disciplinary clinic has been shown in a number of trials to improve quality of life for patients with ALS and also possibly to prolong life expectancy in these patients," said Dr. Brandon Hirota, director of ALS Clinic of Hawaii.
ALS is a rapidly progressive, fatal and incurable neurological disease that attacks nerve cells – responsible for controlling voluntary muscles – in the brain and spinal cord. Those with ALS may lose the ability to move, speak, swallow and even breath, often making it difficult for patients and their families to get the medical care that's required.
"Our hope is to be able to create a clinic that becomes a beacon of hope for those people, that attracts them and helps them get the support that they need," said Fred Fisher, president and CEO of ALS Association Golden West Chapter.
The annual Hawaii Walk to Defeat ALS helped raise money to fund the clinic. Last year's event brought in $80,000.
Approximately 100 people in Hawaii live with the disease.