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Accident Risks Facing ALS Patients

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, can be a very difficult condition to live with, and over a period of time can severely impact a person’s driving abilities. For this reason, it is very important for family members and caregivers to monitor the patient’s condition, and step in to take away car keys when these skills are severely impacted to prevent accident risks.

The ALS Association is marking ALS Awareness Month, and is drawing attention to this much-feared, but little known-about condition. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare condition that can over a period of time lead to cognitive, physical and movement limitations. The symptoms of ALS can progress very quickly.  The average person who is diagnosed with ALS dies within a period of 5 years after receiving a diagnosis. The disease can progress very quickly, exacerbating the limitations it imposes, especially those involving the person’s physical and cognitive abilities.

Because ALS is a condition that progresses so quickly, it is very important for family members to make decisions about the patient’s independence, especially his mobility and driving, after a diagnosis.  Those abilities could worsen quickly as the disease progresses. Last year, one study found that patients who suffered from mild to moderate progression of the disease could continue driving safely. That study found that in spite of the weaknesses in movement and cognition that these drivers suffered, their driving abilities were on par with other persons who did not suffer from the disease. However, even in that study, the researchers warned that the findings of the study should not be taken to mean that patients with ALS can drive safely and without restrictions.

Many patients with ALS are able to self-evaluate their driving, and restrict their own driving to safer modes, such as driving only during the day or driving on less busy routes.  They are willing to give up the car keys when they feel that their abilities are being compromised. However, the evaluation of a caregiver can hold much more weight when it comes to restricting the driving abilities of an ALS patient.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with ALS, do not depend on him to self- monitor driving abilities. Instead, arrange to have that difficult conversation about restricted driving privileges, sooner rather than later.  Make alternative arrangements for transportation for the person. It’s important to do this to ensure that the person continues to remain independent and mobile, even in the absence of independent driving abilities. Failure to do so could cause stress and exacerbation of symptoms due to the inability to drive.

The Atlanta car accident attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who have been injured in a car accident in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. Talk to an Atlanta car accident attorney at the Katz Law Firm, and determine whether you have legal grounds for a claim for compensation. You may be eligible for damages that include medical costs including hospitalization, medication fees and therapy, lost wages, diminished earning capacity and other types of compensation.

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