Those referred to the ALS Center meet with one of the neuromuscular specialist physicians in Diagnostic Neurology on the Main Floor of Reynolds Tower. If a diagnosis of probable or definite ALS (or an ALS variant) is confirmed, patients are referred to the multidisciplinary services of the ALS Clinic at Medical Plaza - Miller (formerly CompRehab Plaza).
Funding from the ALS Association and its regional branch, the North Carolina Chapter, allows ALS patients and their families to meet with a team of health care providers during the day to address all questions and problems.
The ALS Clinic was established in March of 1998 and was the first of its kind in North Carolina. The clinic was established to offer patients a comprehensive team approach to treating ALS. The ALS Clinic was certified as a Center of Excellence by the ALS Association in 2001 and is one of only 33 such centers in the country.
Learn more about ALSA-certified centers.
The ALS Clinic's mission is to extend longevity and maximize patient independence and quality of life by offering specialized services to patients diagnosed with ALS.
Clinic visits emphasize problem solving over documentation. During a clinic visit, patients discuss their care with their neurologist and meet with a social worker, neuropsychologist, ALS Association representative and specialized therapists that are highly experienced in ALS care.
The ALS Clinic team reviews information collected during routine telephone contacts before visits and the team meets afterwards to coordinate a future care plan for each patient.
The clinic houses equipment used during visits and works with on-site medical equipment vendors to help patients obtain equipment promptly.
A volunteer coordinates an informative lunch and refreshment break, allowing persons with ALS (PALS) and caregivers (CALS) an opportunity to socialize.
[See a video of an ALS patient outlining a clinic visit.]
WFSM ALS Clinic Team Members
Neuromuscular specialists are neurologists that have special interest and training in the care of ALS patients. They meet with patients and families to develop an overall plan of care and prescribe medication and equipment as needed. These physicians also run the ALS clinical research trials.
The nurse clinician is a registered nurse experienced in assessing the needs of the ALS patient. The nurse clinician has telephone contact with the ALS patient or their caregiver prior to clinic visits to coordinate patient care with the appropriate therapist. The nurse clinician provides education and nursing support to ALS patients and families.
[Learn about the role of the Nurse Clinician.]
The clinic coordinator arranges all ALS Center patient appointments with physicians, therapists and other medical professionals. The clinic coordinator arranges all necessary follow-up tests and serves as a point person for questions and problems. You are encouraged to contact the clinic coordinator at 336-716-2309 with any questions regarding scheduling or travel directions.
The research coordinator may talk with you in advance or during clinic appointments about opportunities to participate in research studies including clinical trials where experimental ALS treatments are tested. Our goal is for everyone to have a chance to contribute to ALS research in some way, but we certainly respect the wishes of those who do not want to do so.
Physical therapists assist people with ALS in maintaining and building muscle strength by providing exercise programs and assistive devices to optimize function and level of independence.
Occupational therapy helps people maintain their independence with feeding, dressing, bathing and work performance through adaptive equipment and energy conservation.
A speech pathologist evaluates a patient's speech and swallowing capabilities. Patients with speech problems may be trained to use alternative equipment for communication. If a patient is having difficulty swallowing, a speech therapist may have suggestions to improve this function.
The ALS social worker assists with individual and family counseling and stress management. Community resources such as social security, Medicare, Medicaid, home health, hospice, support groups, advanced directives and durable medical equipment are also discussed
The nutritionist analyzes a patient's daily caloric intake and investigates any eating and swallowing difficulties. Special diets and nutritional supplements are recommended if necessary.
Assistive Technology Consultant
An assistive technology consultant is available at the ALS Clinic to assess patients' needs for assistive devices. Equipment is available to help patients obtain a maximum level of independence at home. For example: environmental controls, telephone access, recreation, augmentative communication, and computers.
The respiratory therapist assesses respiratory status for all patients during clinic and educates patients and families on the use of equipment that can support natural breathing. In addition to being present at clinic, the respiratory therapist is also available for consultation between clinic visits and can perform home visits if necessary.
The psychologist evaluates cognitive and emotional changes that may occur with ALS and helps patients and family members cope with the disease. Individual and family counseling is available, as well as training in relaxation and self-hypnosis that can be helpful with pain, fatigue, reduced breathing capacity, or to simply enable one to take a break from the situation.
North Carolina Chapter Representative
The chapter representative provides information to patients and families about chapter grants and programs, as well as other community resources.
Scheduling of the Clinic
The ALS Clinic hosts patients and their families on the third Wednesday and Thursday of each month. Most patients are asked to return about every 3 months depending on their needs and preferences.
ALS Clinic is held at Medical Plaza - Miller, located at 131 Miller Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Traveling I-40 (east or west), take I-40 Business and exit on Cloverdale Avenue. Turn right on Cloverdale and travel 1 block to the intersection of Cloverdale Avenue and Miller Street. Turn right on Miller Street; Medical Plaza - Miller is on the right.
For More Information
To learn more about the ALS Clinic or to schedule an appointment, please contact:
Theresa Johnston-Crews RN, BSN, MBA, ALS Center Nurse Clinician
Department of Neurology
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157