It’s been a controversial subject for years. Can exercise help or could it possibly hurt patients with ALS?
In a 2016 study, a group of patients suffering from ALS was evaluated on a structured home-based program. This structure home-based program, as the name implies, was conducted without the supervision of a physical therapist (Home-EX group) at home. The exercises consisted of muscle stretching, muscle training, and functional training for 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, the patients were evaluated by physical therapists based on ALSFRS-R (ALS Functional Rating Scale–Revised) scores. The Home-EX group was found to have a significantly higher respiratory function sub-score as well as a higher total score on the ALSFRS-R, when compared to the control group.(4)
These promising results and the findings of other similar studies have shown the importance of moderate-intensity exercise as a therapy to help prevent muscle weakness. Along with strengthening muscles, the studies found a variety of other benefits.
Benefits of Moderate-Intensity Exercise for Persons with ALS (1):
- May facilitate healthy innervation (stimulation through nerves) of neurons and synaptic networks to slow degeneration of neurons, i.e. moderate-intensity exercise may slow progression of weakness in the body.
- May promote a neuroprotective effect on the muscles.
- May help to maintain cardiopulmonary efficiency, muscle strength, and endurance without overstressing the muscles or neurological system.
- Using exercises matched to physical ability may help persons with ALS maintain a high level of function and independence.
- People with ALS who have participated in an exercise program have experienced longer maintenance of strength, respiratory capacity, and function compared to those that did not participate in an exercise program.
- No harm from participating in moderate intensity exercise programs have been reported.
Based on these findings and other compelling studies (please see References below), Simplesa Nutrition embarked on a journey to create an exercise program that was effective, easy to follow and readily available to everyone suffering from ALS or other Neurodegenerative diseases. It was clearly evident that many PALS face real challenges when it comes to affordability and accessibility to specialized physical therapists. Therefore, delivering the expertise of a Board Certified specialist in Neurologic physical therapy along with providing basic exercise equipment became an indispensable part of a successful program.
We partnered with Julie Talkington, a Board Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy and together we developed a structured exercise program that was tailored for all stages of ALS, specifically; Early, Middle, and Advanced stages of the disease.
The result of our collaboration is the “Exercise Program for ALS”. The Exercise Program is designed as an at-home, step-by-step exercise guide for those suffering from ALS or other similar neurodegenerative diseases. Each exercise is clearly explained and is easy to follow and include illustrations for the beginning and ending movements. Each exercise is designed to target specific muscle groups in a systematic manner to maintain mobility and avoid overuse of these muscles.
The “Exercise Program for ALS” is a carefully vetted selection of 50+ exercises and stretches designed to strengthen and increase range of motion of specific muscles and muscle groups. The full Program is comprised of a 40 page Manual that comes complete with General Guidelines, easy to follow, step-by-step instructions and illustrations for each exercise, energy Conservation Techniques and even Breathing Techniques. The Program also includes a set of 3 Exercise Rubber bands, of different resistance levels and a small Exercise Ball for hand squeezing and other exercises.
It is our firm belief that PALS can benefit from this program as it provides an additional set of tools to help fight this disease. We invite you to try the program and if you’d like, provide us with welcome feedback. Please click here to learn more.
- A Systematic Review of the Effect of Moderate Intensity Exercise on Function and Disease Progression in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Andrew J Lui, Nancy N Byl JNPT Vol 33, June 2009 p68-87
- Physical Therapy for a Patient Through Six Stages of Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis
Vanina Dal Bello-Haas, Anne D Kloos, and Hiroshi Mitsumoto. Phys Ther. 1998: 78; 1312-1324
- Effectiveness of Home-Based Exercises Without Supervision by Physical Therapists for Patients with Early-Stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Pilot Study
Kitano, Kosuke et al.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 99, Issue 10, 2114-2117