New device offers ALS patients a chance of better quality of life

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A device recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers new hope for people with ALS, and it's available through a procedure offered at Crestwood Medical Center.

Dr. Peter Vevon is a general surgeon in Huntsville, and is among the first surgeons in the U.S. to implant the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS) in patients with ALS and Chronic Hypoventilation.

ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Dr. Vevon is the first surgeon and Crestwood Medical Center is the first hospital in Alabama to complete the implant, the hospital said.

Dr. Tejanand Mulpur is a neurologist and Co-Medical Director of the ALS Care Clinic at Crestwood Medical Center, which was recently designated as a Certified Treatment Center of Excellence by the ALS Association.

“Most ALS patients develop chronic hypoventilation over the course of their disease," said Dr. Mulpur. "Traditionally, we could only assist them with invasive or non-invasive ventilation.”

Patient Carla King was identified as someone who could benefit from the NeuRx DPS device, and had it implanted on Tuesday, April 29 at Crestwood.

“Being the first in Alabama to have the DPS was exciting and hopeful! The ALS diagnosis is a frightening and helpless feeling, with no cure or treatment really available. This procedure is such a positive for ALS patients resulting in significantly better breathing and therefore, a better quality of life," King said.

"We are excited about offering the benefits of the NeuRx DPS® at Crestwood Medical Center, including the opportunity for a patient to breathe for a longer period without needing a mechanical ventilator," said Dr. Vevon.

The device is implanted through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. It provides electrical stimulation to the muscle and nerves in the diaphragm. When the muscle is stimulated by the implant, the diaphragm contracts which helps condition the muscle to improve fatigue resistance during normal exertion.

For more information about this procedure for ALS patients, please contact the ALS Association at (256) 519-9030.

For more information on the upcoming Walk to Defeat ALS, click here.