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From The CriticsReviewer: Bonnie Gerecke, MD (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
Description: This book on the care of the patient with ALS includes a comprehensive description of symptomatic treatments and of the management of the psychosocial aspects of the disease as they relate to the patient, the family, and the treating physician.
Purpose: It is intended to provide healthcare providers with an up-to-date resource to which they can refer when treating a patient with ALS. It also is intended to provide guidelines for therapies based on both scientific data and clinical experience.
Audience: The book is written for any healthcare provider involved in the care of the patient with ALS, including physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, speech and language therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and those involved with palliative care.
Features: A basic primer on motor neuron disease begins the book. The first chapter is appropriately brief and describes the potential pathophysiology of the disorder and potential therapies. The rest of the book is dedicated to describing the management of the patient with ALS. Each chapter is devoted to a different aspect of the disease, varying from psychosocial issues to symptomatic therapies. The chapters are short but cover the basics. Several of the chapters have lists and algorithms that are very practical and which the physician can apply directly during clinical care. Chapter three includes a detailed checklist for planning end-of-life decisions and advanced directives in ALS that can easily be used by the treating physician as a reference when discussing these issues with the patient. Other charts display recommendations for medications, including specific dosages, which is also easy to apply clinically. The references are extensive and include recent data to support the recommendations. This is particularly relevant in the chapter on the management of respiratory symptoms as the more recent literature has supported the role of noninvasive ventilation for prolongation of life and improved quality of life in appropriate patients. Even the appendixes are useful for practitioners who may need additional support for their patients or who may want to get up-to-date information on the latest scientific data from the listed websites.
Assessment: This book is well written and thorough. I am not aware of another book that provides such a comprehensive treatment of the palliative aspects of ALS in a way that the clinician can use it often. As a young neuromuscular specialist just starting out with a particular interest in ALS, I have used the book as a resource for the management of my own patients. I would encourage other healthcare providers who are involved in the care of ALS patients to read this book.