MDA/ALS Clinic

LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic

The Clinic provides comprehensive care and education for people living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS is a progressive motor neuron disease that causes severe damage to nerve cells that communicate with muscles. Our experienced and compassionate team works closely with patients and their families throughout their ALS journey. Our goal is to partner with patients to maximize patient’s health, functioning, and ability using available therapy, equipment, exercise, and nutrition.

The ALS clinical team specializes in neuromuscular disorders and other conditions associated with ALS. After thorough assessment, the team works closely with patients to create a comprehensive clinical care plan, including respiratory evaluations, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition, speech and swallowing, mental health, and access to resources.

At the initial clinical consultation and each follow up clinic visit, the team provides education on all aspects of ALS, ongoing clinical care, integration into the multidisciplinary clinical approach, neurological assessment, and customized plan of care. The ALS clinical team works to educate and include the patient and family, empowering them in their own care plan for their ALS journey.

The LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic is also a training ground for students attending school at LSUHSC. We have students from our schools of Medicine and Allied Health who gain valuable experience learning from those they see and will take that knowledge and experience into our communities.

 

History of the LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic

In May of 2013, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) announced the designation of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans School of Medicine as an official MDA/ALS Center. This designation recognized the high standards of care offered by a team of specialized physicians and therapists for people in the Gulf South living with ALS.  LSU Health – New Orleans is the first and only MDA/ALS Center in Louisiana, joining a national network of MDA/ALS Centers providing a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of ALS.

In 2014, the Amyotrophic Lateral Association (ALS) named the LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic as an ALS Association Recognized Treatment Center.

 

LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic Team Members

  • Michael Charlet: Neurologist, Medical Director
  • Stephen Kantrow: Pulmonologist, Medical Director
  • Bailey Doctor: Nutritionist
  • Elizabeth Ehrensing: Speech Language Pathologist
  • Maria Kay: Physical Therapist
  • Suzy Keenan: Occupational Therapist
  • Heidi Leffler: Social Worker
  • Helena Midkiff: Respiratory Therapist

 

The clinic also has representatives from supporting agencies

  • Molly Lehmuller: Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA.org)
  • Jessica Boykin: ALS Association Louisiana/Mississippi chapter (ALS Association)

This is a multidisciplinary clinic is sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the ALS Association.

Referrals to the LSU Health – New Orleans ALS Clinic

To refer a patient to our clinic, please send the following to fax (504)412-1518:

  • Referral from physician’s office “Attention: ALS clinic”
  • Progress Notes – including findings from a neuro exam
  • Labs
  • MRI reports of brain, cervical spine, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine
  • thoracic spine, lumbar spine
  • Nerve conduction and/or EMG results

 

Appointments and Referrals: (504) 412-1517.

478 S. Johnson St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

  • Patients or families making follow-up appointments can call 504-412-1517, and request an appointment in the ALS clinic with any LSU staff member
  • Current patients with clinical care questions are encouraged to call 504-412-1517 and ask for ALS nurse coordinator

For more information about the MDA/ALS Clinic, please contact Molly Lehmuller, 504-455-4460 or mlehmuller@mdausa.org.

 

Additional collaboration

Meher Banajee (Dr. Banajee)

The clinic also works closely on services for language assessments and word banking with Meher Banajee. Dr. Banajee has a PhD in Communication Disorders and performs evaluations to determine the person’s function and what augmentative communication techniques/device may best serve that person.

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA.org)

Founded in 1950, MDA’s mission is to relentlessly pursue our promise to free families from the life-threatening effects of 43 muscle-debilitating diseases. MDA has funded $20 million in ALS research over the past five years, with 66 active research projects underway. 

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has led the way for innovations in ALS science and care for nearly 70 years. MDA has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to ALS research and care for tens of thousands of people diagnosed with ALS and their families—in the past five years, nearly $20 million has been dedicated to ALS-related research alone. MDA’s commitment includes support for a network of multidisciplinary MDA Care Centers at top medical institutions nationwide; durable medical and respiratory equipment loan closets; clinical trial finder tools; educational and social events; and other resources. With new initiatives such as the MOVR neuromuscular disease registry and data hub, MDA is uniquely positioned to advance more clinical trials and develop new standards of ALS treatment.

Reach your local MDA office by calling 504-455-4460 or emailing neworleans@mdausa.org.

ALS Association (ALSA.org)

The Association strives discover treatments and a cure for ALS, and to serve, advocate for, and empower people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest.

The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter provides support to local patients and families across Louisiana and Mississippi through programs such as our Multidisciplinary Clinics, Durable Medical Equipment and Assistive Technology Loan Closets, Support Group Meetings, and ALS Resource Library. The Care Services division of The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter provides patients, caregivers, family members, friends and healthcare workers with a variety of resources to guide and assist in coping with and learning more about ALS.

Reach your local ALS Association chapter by calling Jessica Boykin, DHA, LMSW, Care Services Director (225) 343-9880 ext 3 or emailing jessica.boykin@alsalams.org.

Team Gleason (TeamGleason.org)

Team Gleason is a local ALS-focused community organization founded by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his wife Michel, after Steve’s 2011 diagnosis of ALS. Team Gleason’s mission is to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in living with ALS. In general, Team Gleason provides assistance in the following areas:

  • Adventures – Financial and planning assistance, as available, for extraordinary life adventures for individuals with ALS.
  • Communication – Copay assistance for communication devices for people living with ALS as funds are available, or loaner devices as available.
  • Mobility – Grants are available for several items typically not funded through insurance, such as seat elevators, on wheelchairs that have not yet been purchased.
  • Voice/Message Banking – Team Gleason can help cover the cost of voice banking with Acapela and Model Talker programs, and can loan equipment needed to complete voice banking and message banking.
  • Home Automation – Support for customized home automation packages for the rooms/areas that are most commonly utilized within the house, such as smart lights, thermostats, or door locks.
  • Equipment – Assistance with obtaining equipment, including communication device mounts and equipment for computer access

To find out more about Team Gleason or to complete an application for assistance, please visit TeamGleason.org.