An average of 15 people are newly diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease every day, according to the ALS Association
. The incurable disease attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, eventually leaving those suffering from the disorder paralyzed.
Thanks to a $1 million gift to create the Ed and Ann Rapp Family Endowment, Dr. Chris Zallek, a neurologist with the OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute is working on projects to not only help diagnose the disease sooner, but help those with Lou Gehrig’s participate in drug trials, no matter where they live.
In partnership with engineers from Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Zallek has created four devices.
- Two are designed to help health care providers-in-training learn to identify muscle weakness and stiffness, which are characteristics of ALS and other neurological diseases, sooner.
- One device helps clinicians more easily learn to detect the type of muscle stiffness a patient has, leading to quicker treatment of those with Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis and those who’ve suffered a stroke.
- The last tool allows physicians the capability to examine and quantify muscle strength in ALS and other neurological patients directly or from another location.